Sparkling colours and gossamer lines – the glassblowers, potters and ceramic painters of the Italian Renaissance produced the most marvellous things. It was a flourishing time of great technological progress and international, outward-looking attitudes. Italian maiolica and Venetian glass were to become major sources of inspiration for artists elsewhere and would therefore have a heavy influence on styles all over Europe. Top pieces tucked away in the museum’s storerooms have now been brought out, restored and researched specifically for this exhibition. In addition, the Gemeentemuseum Den Haag presents a brand-new acquisition: a fragile glass plate with diamond-point engraving which has recently been purchased with the assistance of the Rembrandt Society, including a contribution from the Jaap and Joanna van der Lee-Boers fund.
Maiolica is the Italian term for tin-glazed earthenware. It is still an extremely popular form of ceramic. As well as making objects durable, the tin glaze provided a suitable base for decorative paintwork. The resulting brightly coloured wares from Renaissance Italy show the influence of Moorish and oriental ceramics, archaeological finds from Antiquity, textiles, and fine art painting.
The Gemeentemuseum’s collection of Italian Renaissance maiolica and glass is of exceptional quality and gives a clear idea of the huge variety of wares produced at this early period. One of the stars of this show is a new acquisition: a glass plate with an engraved border exhibiting, instead of the usual more or less stylised patterns of leaves and flowers, an extremely rare decorative design entirely based on that of needlepoint lace. It imitates even the typical knotted threads that link the volutes and leafy tendrils in lace of that kind. The recently acquired object establishes a direct link between glass and textiles, two of the major areas in the collections of the Gemeentemuseum.
Another outstanding item is a plate by Maestro Giorgio Andreoli from Gubbio. Signed and dated 1518, the plate is an extremely early example of lustre glazing, a technique previously unknown to potters in Italy. This is just one of the many fascinating facts related by this exhibition as regards the technique, decoration and makers of the collection items on show.