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Mastro Domenico da Venezia: a Polychromed Albarello

Mastro Domenico da Venezia: a Polychromed Albarello

Domenico da Venezia was one of the most prominent exponents in Venetian maiolica production during the latter 16th century, and his work is well documented through tankards, albarelli and pharmacy vases richly decorated with fruit, flowers, foliage, scrolling and medallions with male and female portraits and busts.
His style found full flourish in Venetian Mannerism, where it was expressed with great freedom and individuality through innovative creations; these also stood out for their unmistakable sheen in glazes and an artful use of colour, pairing customary deep blue backgrounds with intense ochres, mellow yellows and bright greens.

albarello mastro domenico- 16th century

These features, together with other aspects typical to Domenico da Venezia’s repertoire, are also manifest in this excellent pharmacy jar, which preserves still intact today its bright colouring. The entire vase surface is painted with a pattern of flowers and foliage on a intense blue background: from this sprout flat daisy-like blooms – with five or six white petals curled around a central yellow and azure button – emblematic of Domenico da Venezia’s work.
The floral adornment is broken only by two broad scroll-framed medallions depicting two effigies. The first is a three-quarter portrait of a haloed saint with a book in his left hand and his gaze turned towards the goblet in his right. The other, on the opposite side, is an oval with a woman’s profile – probably a real portrait, as was common practice at Maestro Domenico’s workshop – of an elegant lady, likely a member of Venetian aristocracy, wearing a flashy pearl earring. Going almost beyond the act of drawing, Domenico manages to endow his figures with a sensual and fluid physical presence, thanks to a skilful use of colour, introducing play between contrast and shadow. His maiolicas fully absorb the Venetian colour tradition, as do Andrea Schiavone’s paintings: the two share the traits of bold colours and exuberant imagination.
Creations by Maestro Domenico’s workshop are housed in the most renowned public and private collections throughout Europe, and particularly significant concentrations of works may be viewed at the Museo Correr in Venice and at the Museo Nazionale del Bargello in Florence.

albarello doppioDomenico da Venezia, workshop of
ALBARELLO
Tin-glazed earthenware
Venice
1560-80
H. 32.5 cm.

References: Maioliche Veneziane, Museo Nazionale del Bargello, Florence 1987, pp. 30-37.

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