Over 85 centuries, ceramics has evolved from a functional to a decorative art, and Italy is at the epicenter of the finest traditions of majolica production.
Majolica - or maiolica - is distinguished from other ceramics by its opaque, white glaze that is created by the use of tin-oxide and then painted over. Colors are applied as metallic oxides to the unfired glaze, which absorbs pigment and preserves the brilliant colors.
During the 15th century, Florence was the leading center of majolica production, which later expanded during the 16th century to Gubbio, Urbino, Faenza, Pesaro, Deruta and other areas throughout Italy.
The 16th century was the golden age for Italian majolica. An explosion of new designs, colors and techniques kept artisans' workshops busy to capacity, filling orders for nobility and wealthy merchants across Europe. The masters of the age included Nicola da Urbino, Guido Durantino, Mastro Giorgio of Gubbio, Francesco Xanto Avelli, Orazio Fontana of Urbino and Maestro Domenigo of Venice, who continue to influence and inspire the Italian majolica artisans of today.
Majolica declined in popularity in the 18th century, largely due to the proliferation of more inexpensive porcelains and earthenware.
However, for those who appreciate the finest in ceramic art, Italian majolica remains a perfect combination of function and design that brings beauty, warmth and style to any home.