Antique Italian Porcelain and Capodimonte Porcelain - A Collector's Historical Resource

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Antique Italian Porcelain Collectibles

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Late 19th century antique Italian porcelain coffee pot in Naples style, possibly by the Ginori family.

Look at the soft, sublte painting of the this Capodimonte porcelain cup by Guiseppe della Torre, c 1750. Just beautiful!

Italian blue & white porcelain vase by Cozzi of Venice, c 1769

Italian porcelain centerpiece made at Doccia with typical style of last half of 19th century, c 1755

Although antique Italian porcelain is not as well know as porcelain wares of other Eastern and European countries, Italian porcelain, and especially the much sought after Capodimonte porcelain, represents some of the most beautiful porcelain pieces ever made. With the recent trend toward Mediterranian decor demand for antique Italian porcelain has risen dramatically, particularly Italian porcelain plates, bowls, vases, and urns.

In the 16th century, Italy was a leader in Europe in fine pottery making, and was strongly influenced by the Chinese techniques and designs of imported Italian porcelain from China. Italian potters had been exceptionally known at this time for their colorful majolica wares. Italian porcelain was first made in the city of Florence a century before any other porcelain wares. Italian porcelain potters were able to accomplish the skill of firing china clay and china stone at very high termperatures causing the two to bond together, giving the wares translucency, as well as the consistency of glass.

Early antique Italian porcelain wares were produced between 1575 and 1587 under the patronage of the Grand Duke Fancesco I de Medici. These porcelain pieces showed influence from the East with use of the Ming blue and white colors, as well as the West with designs relating to the Italian Renaissance. However, repeated kiln failures and more interest among consumers for maiolica wares and imported Chinese wares resulted in a short life for Italian porcelain production. As a result, there is limited availability, and the few pieces of early Italian porcelain that can be found are extremely expensive. Few Medici antique Italian porcelain pieces are in the hands of private collectors, the majority being housed in museums.

It wasn't until the turn of the 18th century that Italian porcelain was produced again in Venice which was the setting for the third European factory to produce hard paste porcelain. Francesco Vezzi, influenced by the processes he learned in Meissen and Vienna, produced a creamy hard paste Italian porcelain, but it lacked the whiteness of other European porcelain, the shapes and decoration were considered primitive, and the Italian porcelain did not draw the excitement seen in other more sophisticated pieces.

Antique Italian porcelain was produced at Capodimonte in Naples between 1743 and 1759, a soft-paste porcelain which exhibited more delicate modelling and subtley painted designs. But, it was the factory of the Ginori family in Doccia near Florence that was able to produce some of the most desirable Italian porcelain wares. The Doccia porcelain factory designs are sculptural and dramatic often left white. Many large figures of saints were produced using a variety of glazes. Early Doccia Italian glazes were thick and very grey, a feature shared by much antique Italian porcelain. In an attempt to regulate the greyness of the glazes, very strong enamel colors were applied, often using a change in brushes to acheive more subtle effects. Eighteenth century Doccia Italian porcelain includes many porcelain tablewares designed with subtle figures in low relief which they continued to produce until the 1890's.

Collectors often confuse Capodimonte porcelain with later pieces of Doccia Italian porcelain. Naples maintained the highest standard for porcelain, and antique Capodimonte porcelain made from 1743 to 1759 is regarded as some of the most beautiful porcelain ever made until the production was moved to Spain. These antique Italian porcelain wares included soft and delicate scenes of landscapes, figures in battle, and scenes from Italian comedy. The mark shown on these porcelain wares is the fluer-de-lis in blue. The emblem of the crowned N of Naples was never used.

Naples produced a soft paste Italian porcelain between 1771 and 1806 which bears a great resemblence to the porcelain wares of Capodimonte, since many of the Naples potters were previously employed there. Availability of genuine antique Italian porcelain pieces carrying the mark of Capodimonte is extremely rare.  Most of these Capodimonte Italian porcelain pieces are currently in museums or in the hands of private collectors.






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