Istoriato barocco (Historiated baroque style)

17th century

In short

This room documents how the “istoriato barocco” (historiated baroque style) established itself as a type of maiolica decoration, a result of the relationship formed between painting and ceramics during the 17th century. The fresco on the vault, depicting Apollo and Diana on the Sun Chariot, was painted during the final decades of the 17th century by Bartolomeo Guidobono (Savona 1654-Turin 1709). Trained to paint maiolica as a boy by his father and ceramics decorator Gio Antonio, the artist formed his expressive language early on thanks to his acquaintance with the Piola workshop, the most important artist laboratory in Genoa in that era, and study trips to Parma, Bologna and Venice.


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Mainly, but not exclusively, painted in blue and white, the “istoriato barocco” style favoured the representation of a noble repertoire, taken from mythology, literature, and biblical history, using prints, illustrations or sketches. The entire piece of pottery is conceived as one narrative surface upon which deities, ancient warriors, expressive female figures or pompous knights appear, surrounded by groups of putti, against backgrounds of cloudy skies and in landscapes with mountains, castles, and farmsteads encircled by trees and bushes. The figures are only rarely located in domestic interiors. The spreading of Ligurian Baroque maiolica ceramics, objects of daily use that also boast top aesthetical value, is linked to the likings of the aristocratic patrons for whom they were created. The exuberant ornamentation of amphorae, decorative plates, elegant saucers was evidence of the great blossoming of this type of production, admired and known for its beauty all over the world thanks to a thriving market. The paintbrush of Bartolomeo Guidobono, who brought this style to its highest level of expression, is attributed with various artefacts on exhibit in this museum, characterised by complex, refined compositions featuring trees with lobed leaves and vegetation defined by a thin lattice executed with the brush tip, putti, sweet maidens, gods from Olympus, and lively seahorses.

These ceramics are shown in room 2.