Decorative styles

The main decorative styles of ceramics from Faenza

“Penna di Pavone” or “a Pavona” (Severe style)

The Pavona style dates back to the 1400s and draws its inspiration in the eye of a peacock feather. It is characterized by a rich polychromy and a great decorative effect. In the great use of this style by master ceramists from Faenza one can see a tribute to the young Cassandra Pavoni, who was loved by Galeotto Manfredi, lord of Faenza.

piatto in stile Severo decorato a Pavona
Plate decorated in Pavona style, late fifteenth century.

mattonella esagonale decorata a occhio di penna di pavone
Hexagonal tile decorated in “peacock’s feather eye” style, made at the end of the 15th century by a Faenza workshop for the floor of the Vaselli Chapel in San Petronio in Bologna.

Persian Palmette (Severe style)

Exotically inspired decor that mimics typical motifs of the renaissance fabrics from the Orient.

Used for flooring placed by workers from Faenza in the Vaselli Chapel of S. Petronio in Bologna (1487), it was widely used by the Faenza workshops in the second half of the 1400s.

piatto decoro Palmetta, Faenza, XVI secolo
Plate decorated in Palmetta style with a young woman in the middle, inside the cable. Faenza ceramics, early 16th century.

fiasca in maiolica di Faenza decorata a Palmetta Persiana
Majolica flask decorated with Persian Palmette. Faenza, last quarter of the fifteenth century. The Gothic inscription in the scroll reads “A.qa.de.cuscute”, dodder water (the parasitic plant used for herbal teas and decoctions); above you can see the Persian palmettes with a prolonged cusp on a background of minute motifs.

Historiated style (Bello)

Dish decorated with a grotesque and cable stained with depiction of “Actaeon’s mutation into a stag”. 1530-1535.

coppa stile Istoriato, bottega Virgiliotto Calamelli, Faenza 1560 ca.
Majolica decorated cup depicting “Cadmus and his wife turned into a snake”, scene from the Metamorphoses of Ovid. Piece made by the workshop of Virgiliotto Calamelli, Faenza 1560 ca..

Piatto con ornato a grottesche e cavetto istoriato con raffigurazione di “Atteone mutato in cervo”, 1530-1535.
Bowl with grotesque ornamentation and decorated cable with depiction of “Actaeon mutated in deer” in front of Diana with the companions in the bathroom. This scene too is taken from Ovid’s Metamorphoses. Faenza, 1530-1535 ca..

Compendiario style

Style that developed in the Faenza workshops of the second half of 1500s as a reaction to the excessive chromaticism of the previous century. From that point forward we see more and more majolica painted with languid colours, with figures of cherubs and brief touches of turquoise as the only decorations on the white velvety. candor of the stannifero enamel.

coppa decorata a Compendiario, Faenza, Sedicesimo secolo
Majolica cup decorated in Compendiario style. Faenza, second half of the sixteenth century. In the center is a man in a tunic and a feathered cap with a scimitar.

bacile di maiolica decorato in stile Compendiario. Faenza, fine XVI secolo
Majolica bowl decorated in the Compendiario style. Faenza, late 16th century. At the center of the cable is a Roman soldier advancing holding a pole and a shield with anthropomorphic features.

Berrettino style

The Berrettino (cap) style is identified by the characteristic gray-blue (Bartè in the local dialect) hue enamel used by Faenza majolica artisans in the sixteenth century, perhaps of oriental inspiration.

On the Berrettino enamel we sometimes find painted ornaments (arabesques, grotesques, garlands, fruits, trophies, family crests, medallions, cherubs…) in white with a stringy mark or in vivid multicolour.

piatto in maiolica decorato in stile Berrettino, Faenza, 1530
Majolica cup decorated in Compendiario style. Faenza, second half of the sixteenth century. In the center is a man in a tunic and a feathered cap with a scimitar.

vaso stile Berrettino. Faenza, ultimo quarto del XVI secolo
Majolica bowl decorated in the Compendiario style. Faenza, late 16th century. At the center of the cable is a Roman soldier advancing holding a pole and a shield with anthropomorphic features.

Garofano decoration

Featuring a Japanese garden in which a large flower stands out, the so called “Indian carnation” is exotically inspired (chinoiserie).

It was widely used in fine tableware from Faenza at the end of the sixteenth century.

Zuppiera con decorazione in stile garofano
Tureen with Garofano decoration. Ferniani Manufacture of Faenza, 18th century.

vassoio decorato a Garofano, Manifattura Ferniani di Faenza, secolo XVIII
Tiled tray decorated with Garofano. Ferniani Manufacture of Faenza, XVIIIth century.

Raphaelesque decoration

Ornamentation of the Renaissance which draws inspiration from the plastic and picturesque decorations that were discovered from the ‘400 in the excavations of ancient buildings of Nero’s Rome. The name “Raphaelesque” derives from Raphael, who was inspired by the frescoes of Nero’s Domus Aurea to paint the Vatican Loggias.

A very widespread decoration in Faenza pottery of the second half of the 19th century, it is characterized by motifs such as arabesques, garlands, cupids, mythological figures, festoons, fake architecture, candelabra, plant and animal forms organized in lively and lively compositions that frame pictorial scenes landscapes, bucolic or historical scenes inspired by great artists such as Boucher, Fragonard and Carot.

bacile in ceramica decorato a raffaellesche. faenza, xvii secolo
Ceramic basin decorated “in Raphaelesque style”. Faenza, 17th century. At the center is the Liverani family coat of arms, a noble family from Faenza. All around great display of classic Raphaelesque themes, fantastic and airy, with typical figures such as flower baskets, corollas, masks, leafy branches, water birds and dolphins.

anfora decorata in stile Raffaellesco - Faenza, Fabbrica A. Farina, 1883
Amphora decorated in Raphaelesque style. Faenza, A. Farina Factory, 1883. The decoration presents symmetries and depicts in the center a young man posing triumphantly under a canopy supported by a grotesque winged mask; around a composition of harpies.

Historicistic style

The Historicistic style spreads across the art of the late nineteenth and early twentieth century and is characterized by the recovery and reworking of famous models of Italian art of the past, mainly works of classicistic extraction.

In ceramics its impact is evident above all in the decorations at Raphaelesque: alongside the sacred depictions appear mythological, allegorical, historical and literary-inspired subjects, but also municipal references and portraits of illustrious personages. The ornamental motifs stand out for their great decorative richness, which presents a classical style, arabesques, phytomorphic and geometric motifs, medallions, fluttering ribbons and other fantasies.

piatto stile storicistico raffaellesco - Faenza, Fabbrica Treré, fine XIX secolo
Fruit bowl stand in the Historicistic style decorated with Raphaelesques. Faenza, Ferniani Manufacture, late 19th century. In the cable (in the center) there is a navy with boats and a tree; around, three “shaped” white-bottomed folders, which recall the sixteenth-century “neighborhoods”, contain raphaelesques with cherubs who ride sea monsters held by reins by a fantastic figure.

Alzata stile storicistico (raffaellesco) - Faenza, Manifattura Ferniani, fine XIX secolo
Historicistic plate decorated with Raphaelesques. Faenza, Treré Factory, late 19th century. In the large central circular medallion, Aurora is supported by cherubs holding a torch and is surrounded by Ceres (seated on the left), Mercury (seated in the center) and Apollo (by the shoulders). On the brim, 4 medallions with seascapes, fields and lakes supported by harpies; on the blue background of the grotesques.