The magic of Majolica

Words by:
William Gregory MRICS Golding Young and Mawer
Featured in:
February 2017

British ceramic manufacture in the 19th century was diverse in its technique, style, application and appeal.
One of the leading innovations through the Staffordshire region was to create their own version of Italian Maiolica, which was prevalent from the fifteenth century. Although very little was replicated by way of istoriato, the pieces were more of a symbolic nature and evocative of the start of the Arts and Crafts period.

The leading factories producing these often heavy objects, boldly moulded with relief decoration, thick glazes and organic colours, were Wedgwood and Minton. Everyday wares such as dessert services, jugs and green leaf plates were mass produced. At the height of development, George Jones left the Minton factory to set up on his own and produced more intricate and complicated wares, such as garden seats, strawberry dishes and animalia figures to name but a few. The pair of tazzae is an example of his work.

Throughout the 1980s and early 90s, Majolica had a massive resurgence with buyers and collectors from America, Ireland and the UK sweeping up all the premier lots. In the intervening time whilst the very best pieces continued to command high prices, there was a downturn in the market. Today buyers are returning from distant shores and there are signs that this area of collecting is seeing a modern day resurgence that would be appreciated by the innovators of the nineteenth century.

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