Do you want to know what majolica art pottery is? With this article, understand majolica pottery and even learn interesting facts related to majolica ceramics.

What Is Majolica Pottery

“What is Majolica Pottery?” is a question that will backfire on you as you ask someone about it. Many people know about porcelain and china, but few are acquainted with the beauty and aesthetic appeal of majolica art potteries. The Victorians, who are renowned for their home décor, were one of the most avid admirers of the matchless beauty and ingenuity of majolica. The craze for owning a piece of majolica by the Victorians was like a contemporary craze for owning a piece of expensive crystal. Get an insight to the world of majolica and learn some interesting facts about majolica ceramics here.
 
The Origin
Majolica’s history is as colorful and varied as are its patterns. The name ‘Majolica’ can be assigned to its Spanish origin. It is believed that majolica ceramics were first shaped on the island of ‘Majorca’ and eventually imported to Italy. Nonetheless, the tin glazes that are attributed to its vivid colors were first developed by the Mesopotamian potters, during the 11th century. In England, the art was first introduced at the London’s Crystal Palace Exhibition, in 1851, by potter Herbert Minton. Slowly, the inimitable beauty of majolica mushroomed far and wide and it acquired international repute.
 
The Art
In order to be considered majolica, a piece of pottery had to be produced by a particular technique. Soft and porous earthenware pieces are baked at low temperature, till they reach the ‘biscuit stage’. The buff body then becomes pale yellowish in color and is covered by opaque enamel, made out of metal-oxides like tin or lead. Once the lustrous background of the piece dries, various design elements are coated with metal-oxide glazes, in vivid colors. The piece is then fired at high temperature. A second clear glaze overcoat is finally applied and the piece is baked again, to give shape to bright-colored majolica potteries.
 
The Appeal
Classical Greek, Roman and Egyptian themes formed the base of majolica potteries during its natal stages. Motifs like Sphinx Heads and Roman Columns were some of the designs that were incorporated into them. In the 16th century, they portrayed nature with motifs like snakes and marine animals. However, majolica was manifested in its most beautiful forms in Victorian England. They were seen as a cut-above the commonplace blue-and-white and the ironstone pieces. Potteries with flamboyant colors, like cobalt blues, rich greens and radiant golds, and in fanciful designs were in vogue. Pieces were modeled in high relief, to form motifs like butterflies, flowers, fruits, animals, and vegetables.  
 
The Downfall
In the 1860s, majolica sported motifs in various Oriental-inspired designs. They were mostly shaped like bamboo and other Asian motifs. However, it soon began to lose its charm. There was a glut in the production of replicated poor pieces in the market, which reduced its popularity. Moreover, the use of lead glazes in the potteries resulted in an epidemic of lead poisoning, giving rise to the problem of its manufacture in various factories.
 
The Comeback
Victorian majolica soon made a comeback and ushered in a new era of resurgence in the contemporary world. Collecting Victorian majolica is today considered as a modish art. A single piece of majolica can elegantly accentuate any corner of a home. Be it a solo piece standing boldly on a tabletop or a collection in a cabinet, the beauty of majolica doesn’t fail to stand out in urban home décors today.





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