This charming amphora vase was made entirely by hand in Gubbio, a medieval Umbrian hill town in Italy. Gubbio ceramics are characterized by polychrome floral decorations, enameled and glazed by hand, as this one was by artisans at Oderisi Ceramica. Of the 36 towns in Italy with ancient ceramic traditions, there are four important ones in Umbria: Gubbio, Deruta, Orvieto and Gualdo Tadino. Ceramic production in Gubbio began in the 1300's, but declined until it was revived in the second half of the nineteenth century during the movement to return to the Renaissance traditions.
Made from the local terra cotta clay, this piece has the tin glazes in the tradition of Italian majolica, the brown one wiped on over the white base glaze to "antique" it. Measuring 8 1/2 inches to the top of the wonderfully arched handle, it's about 4 inches wide at the belly, tapering to a base about 2 inches in diameter. Only the foot ring was left unglazed, exposing the reddish tan clay. It's signed on the bottom "OPERISI GUBBIO," printed by hand in black. Note the absence of the word "Italy" or the words "Made in Italy," which usually signifies the item was not originally made for export but for local use. It's in wonderful condition, showing virtually no signs of wear or use. There is a tiny rough spot on the upper rim, done during the firing (it has glaze over it). We believe it was made mid twentieth century, in the 1950's or perhaps the early 1960's.
Gubbio has produced some of the most beautiful ceramics in Italy, including this highly decorative majolica vase.
***The gorgeous Italian marquetry tray shown in our photo is available here: