The Gardiner Museum celebrates the art of ceramics and engages local and international audiences by promoting understanding of the long history of people crafting in clay.
Through the display of its permanent collections and special exhibitions, as well as through studio education, programs that engage diverse communities, and major contributions to scholarship, the Gardiner champions ceramics.
Support from the community is vital to the Gardiner’s ability to continue to provide
There’s more to the Gardiner than our collections. Take a clay class, learn about the art of ceramics with world-renowned guest speakers, or join us for one of our many special events.
Executive Chef Bianca Azupardo presents inspired seasonal menus that showcase locally-sourced ingredients, complemented by stunning views of the city.
You're invited on a journey from the steamy kitchens of cooks who advocated light, flavourful cuisine centuries before our time to the dining rooms of connoisseurs who relished their meals served on newly-invented vessels. Be transported back to the 18th century through stunning objects, decadent recipes, amusing stories, and theatrical sets. Plan your visit to Savour: Food Culture in the Age of Enlightenment now!
On December 10, award-winning Cree journalist Connie Walker moderates a panel featuring exhibiting artists Cannupa Hanska Luger and Kali Spitzer, as well as Cora McGuire-Cyrette, Executive Director of the Ontario Native Women’s Health Association. The conversation will centre on the role of visual art in addressing the crisis of murdered and missing Indigenous women, girls, queer, and trans community members. Get tickets now!
The Gardiner Museum is among the few museums in the world focused on ceramics, and is one of the most important specialty museums internationally. It houses approximately 4,000 objects, including European porcelain, ceramics from the Ancient Americas, Chinese porcelain, Japanese porcelain, and contemporary ceramics. Search the collection online!
Everyone can love clay! Become a Friend at one of the world’s great specialty museums and enjoy the benefits, including unlimited admission, invitations to exhibition previews and special events, discounts on lectures and clay classes, and more.
Italian maiolica is one of the most sophisticated and refined ceramics produced in Renaissance Europe. Maiolica is tin-glazed earthenware, a technique which involved the addition of ashes of tin to a lead glaze in order to create an opaque white background for decoration. Originating in the ninth century in present-day Iraq, the technique spread throughout the Islamic world, reaching Southern Spain by the twelfth century, before establishing itself firmly in Italy in the fourteenth century.
One of the greatest artistic achievements of the Italian Renaissance, maiolica played important roles in the social and domestic lives of individuals. Ceramics held multiple functions; while some objects were deeply embedded in the humanist culture of the time, others served to commemorate important events, such as marriage and birth. Apothecaries also stimulated the maiolica industry with large commissions of pharmaceutical wares.
Istoriato, or narrative painting, represents the most ambitious stylistic development in the history of maiolica. Istoriato wares were decorated with scenes derived from ancient texts, mythology, as well as religious sources. The high fashion from around 1500 to about 1570, istoriato was produced in various towns of north-central Italy, with the Duchy of Urbino as the leading centre.
The Italian Renaissance maiolica collection at the Gardiner Museum is the most important in Canada. It forms part of the original donation made by George and Helen Gardiner.
1. Dish with Scenes of the Abduction of Europa (detail), Italy, Faenza, Attributed to the Master of the Bergantini Bowl, c.1537, Gift of George and Helen Gardiner, G83.1.351
2. Dish with Scenes of the Abduction of Europa (detail), Italy, Faenza, Attributed to the Master of the Bergantini Bowl, c.1537, Gift of George and Helen Gardiner, G83.1.351
3. Hound’s Head Stirrup Cup (detail), England, c. 1770s. Gift of Jean and Kenneth Laundy, G08.2.45
4. Charger (detail), France, Rouen, attributed to the Poterat manufactory, late 17th century, The Pierre Karch and Mariel O'Neill-Karch Collection, G15.8.1
5. Pair of Shoes (detail), England, possibly London, 1705-1715, Gift of George and Helen Gardiner, G83.1.549.1-2. Photographer: Toni Hafkenscheid
6. Bird Dish (detail), England, possibly Staffordshire, possibly by Thomas Toft (d.1689), c.1690-1710, Gift of George and Helen Gardiner, G87.1.3
7. Sculpture of a Stove (detail), Switzerland, Winterthur, c.1650, The Hans Syz Collection, G96.5.418
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