Imitation and Adaptation in Istoriato Maiolica: A Case-Study of the Anne de Montmorency Service, 1535

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Dupertuis, Lindsay Leigh
Gill, Meredith J.
This thesis examines the production of narrative (istoriato) maiolica ceramics in sixteenth-century Urbino, particularly the practice of adapting pre-existing woodcuts and engravings to the painted scenes on the surfaces of these objects. I perform this analysis through a case-study of the Anne de Montmorency tableware service, manufactured in the workshop of Guido Durantino in 1535. Istoriato maiolica studies have often included the art-historical convention of the early modern artist as a solitary individual or genius. I will destabilize this trope by focusing on a prominent service for a powerful aristocrat that was nonetheless designed by anonymous artisans. I assert that the unique circumstances of the duchy of Urbino enabled artisans to compose narrative paintings of classical stories within the confines of their own workshop. With this in mind, I analyze the processes and design practices of these artisans through their products, and offer new conclusions about their compositional choices.