New Associate Decorative Arts Curator Presents Fall Dossier Exhibition and Publication: Exhuberant Grotesques: Renaissance Maiolica from the Fontana Workshop

Colorful earthenware vase

Exuberant Grotesques: Renaissance Maiolica from the Fontana Workshop is the latest in a critically acclaimed series of dossier presentations organized by the Frick. The project takes a rare focused look at this family workshop by presenting several outstanding and innovative examples of sixteenth-century Italian maiolica dating between 1565 and 1575. Each object features the distinctive combination of a central narrative istoriato scene surrounded by delicate grotesques on a white ground. The incorporation of these grotesques, used first in the Renaissance on the walls of the Vatican loggias painted by Raphael in 1519, was translated in Urbino to the ornamentation of luxury maiolica wares. For fifty years, from 1560 to the beginning of the seventeenth century, they were considered the most fashionable decoration to be found on these ceramics. The best pieces, including the six presented in the exhibition, are usually attributed to the workshop of Orazio Fontana, one of the most renowned Italian potters of the Renaissance, who seems to have specialized in the genre. Featuring works from the holdings of The Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Philadelphia Museum of Art, and the Frick, the exhibition is organized by Charlotte Vignon, the sixth Andrew W. Mellon Curatorial Fellow, who was recently appointed as the Frick’s first Associate Curator of Decorative Arts. She comments, “It has given me great pleasure to examine this captivating, but somewhat overlooked, subject. Indeed, while visible in the permanent collection galleries of many museums today, maiolica seldom has been the sole focus of an exhibition, and rarer still is the opportunity to consider the production of one workshop in particular. In fact, we believe this to be the first presentation yet to explore just the output of the Fontana family, and we hope that it will offer visitors today a renewed appreciation for these magnificent wares.” Exuberant Grotesques: Renaissance Maiolica from the Fontana Workshop is made possible by The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and The Gladys Krieble Delmas Foundation. The accompanying catalogue has been generously underwritten by the Robert H. Smith Family Foundation. Education programs planned include a lecture and seminar.


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