Tuesday, 29 January 2013

Buying hand-painted ceramics from Deruta in Umbria

Buying hand-painted ceramics from Deruta in Umbria makes a pleasant one day excursion from Borgo di Vagli. The picturesque little town of Deruta was a major centre of majolica production during the 15th and 16th centuries. In fact, production of painted pottery began there during the Middle Ages and developed in a rather particular way, partly because of a lack of fuel suitable for high temperature firing of the pots. Metallic lustre glazes in golds and ruby red became popular in Deruta because they don't require high temperatures. However, more importantly, as the decorative designs created by Raphael became known outside of Rome through the distribution of inexpensive engravings, for some reason these were taken up enthusiastically by the potters of Deruta and remain a characteristic part of the modern Deruta style.
Antique majolica plate from Deruta, Umbria, Italy
A 16th century piece of Deruta majolica

Deruta is definitely worth a visit by anyone interested in ceramic art or interior decorating and is an excellent place to buy hand-painted ceramics directly from the source. After a period of decline during the 18th and 19th centuries, Deruta revived it ceramic workshops and these flourish to the present day. There are now some 200 workshops producing painted pottery in Deruta. Some of the modern majolica is incredibly skilled and even among the more routine production there are many fine decorative pieces. And not just decorative - you can build up a dinner service of these beautiful pieces. I sourced several of the pieces used in the apartments at Borgo di Vagli from Deruta and a number of our apartment owners have taken Derutaware back with them to their homes in other countries.

An example of modern Derutaware
An example of modern Derutaware

It's about a one hour drive to Deruta from Borgo di Vagli. A recommendable procedure for a majolica buying expedition is to spend some hours looking at what's available and educating your eye, if that's necessary, as well as getting a clear idea of prices, and then to make your purchases. The town itself is very pleasant and there's quite a good museum of majolica there. Deruta is a hill town which means its a good destination for an excursion on a hot day! However, don't neglect the large outlets down on the plain outside of town.

More about Deruta ceramics.

More about Italian majolica.

More about Borgo di Vagli mediaeval vacation village in Tuscany.

Fulvio Di Rosa

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