In accordance with the announcement by the provincial government, the Gardiner Museum has closed temporarily. The health and safety of our visitors, staff, and the wider community remains our top priority. We'll continue to provide you with engaging digital content to keep us connected while the galleries are closed.
During our temporary closure, we're posting exhibitions and selections from our collection online. Discover Inuit ceramics, Chinese and Japanese porcelain, pottery from the Ancient Americas, and more!
On Thursday April 29 at 1 pm, join us for a free online lecture with Professor Alison McQueen, who will discuss the significant contributions of women working at Sèvres in the first century of its history. The presentation will feature works from leading international porcelain collections and bring attention to the often-overlooked roles of women retouching glaze, laying down prints, and burnishing. Register now!
Every object in our permanent collection can be accessed through our eMuseum portal. Learn about individual collecting areas, like Italian Maiolica or Modern and Contemporary Ceramics, or search the full collection by keyword. You'll be amazed by what you discover!
With the Museum closed temporarily, we need your support to continue to offer innovative and engaging exhibitions, programs, and community projects online, as well as plan for the future. Please consider making a donation to help us build community with clay.
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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