1744, Naples (Italy), Terrakotta, modelled fully in the round, old polychromy, 25 x 35 cm, preparatory model for Capodimonte
This preparatory model for Capodimonte, is related to a Pietà executed in white porcelain, today in the Museo Duca di Martina, Naples, and to a polychrome Capodimonte porcelain group, in the Museo Municipal di Madrid. Two figures in the Metropolitan Museum in New York – a Mater Dolorosa, signed G. Gricci and a Saint John, are very close in style and both are from around 1744. It is documented that Gricci worked between 1744 and1745 on different models of a Pietà. The different hand gesture in the porcelaine group in relation to the terracotta model can be explained either by a change during the execution process of the porcelain group or it is a modello for another, not yet traced group. The traces of polychromy on the Modello proofs that Gricci was experimenting with colour, evidenced by the other known polychrome Pietà in Madrid.
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.
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