Giuseppe Gricci

Florence c. 1719 - 1769 Madrid
1744, Naples (Italy), Terrakotta, modelled fully in the round, old polychromy, 25 x 35 cm, preparatory model for Capodimonte


´Baked earth´

Ceramic arts

Terracotta actually means ‘baked earth’ and is used to describe a frequently unglazed type of ceramic product. Unlike other ceramics, terracotta only needs one firing. In antiquity, terracotta experienced its first major heyday during the Minoan civilization on Crete some 2000 years BC. It gained popularity later in Greece and during the Italian Renaissance, especially in the workshop of Luca della Robbia.

The ´white gold´

Alchemy at Dresden

Porcelain of Meissen

Maria Amalia of Saxony (1724–60), the daughter of Frederick Augustus II of Poland and Elector of Saxony, married Charles, King of Naples and Sicily, later Charles III of Spain (1716–88). The founding of Capodimonte is certainly related to this marriage as the manufactory in Meissen, founded by her grandfather, had existed since 1710. Giovanni Caselli was appointed master decorator and his brother-in-law, Giuseppe Gricci, sculptor and modeller. Following the coronation of Charles as King of Spain in 1759, the whole manufactory moved to Buen Retiro near Madrid, together with the employees and the production facilities. The blue ‘under-glass’ Bourbon line became a distinguished brand.

Dresden and Naples

Porcelain of Capodimonte

A royal brand

Porcelain was originally a luxury article that was only available in the form of imported Chinese wares. It was not until 1710 that Ehrenfried Walther von Tschirnhaus (1651–1708) and Johann Friedrich Böttger (1682–1719) succeeded in manufacturing hard-paste porcelain – often referred to as ‘white gold’. The manufacturing process could not be kept secret and almost sixty manufactories were established in Europe in the 18th century. These were exclusively owned by reigning monarchs and were inextricably linked to them. On the one hand, the production that was often housed within a palace complex, was a source of income; on the other hand it served to provide the court with luxury articles.