Magnificent Majolica: The Azeglio Vase

“Magnificent Majolica”, our bimonthly series focusing on the opulence and exuberance of the Archive’s majolica designs, concludes this month after 12 instalments. Each of these highlights from our special Art & Design folio – displayed as detailed images, galleries, or interactive comparisons – can be found via the site’s In Depth section, along with the series introduction which explains why majolica is so synonymous with Minton.

Our final Magnificent Majolica post focuses first on an artwork described in the 1871 Art Catalogue as one of two copy drawings of “the Azeglio Vase”. This wonderfully vibrant illustration features “grotesque figures”, cherubs, and fruit-laden “festoons”, along with an inscription clarifying the position of one element to “just behind the handle”.

2 Large Water Colour Drawings, Majolica, Copies by Green of the Azeglio Vase, from G51 to G52

This design would later be put into production, appearing as the “Aziglio” vase in Ornaments Book SD 1705/MS1591 (Shape No. 788) and as two separate entries in the Estimate Book for the 1862 International Exhibition, again with the slightly altered spelling. But why two different entries?

The answer lies inside Art & Design folio SD 1705/MS1740 and with artwork O.12, a sgraffito design by Thomas Kirkby of “Itallian Grotesque for Azziglio Vase” with the same shape and elements as the illustration in the Majolica Box. This particular version was also paired with a matching “rams head pedestal” which is referenced in both the 1871 Art Catalogue (as artwork O.13) and in one of the two “Aziglio” vase entries in the 1862 Estimate Book.

1 Ditto [Water Colour Drawing] in Red, T. Kirkby, Itallion Grotesque for Azziglio Vase, O.12
1 Ditto [Water Colour Drawing] in Red, T. Kirkby, Ditto Rams Head Pedestals to match the Vase

As a final Magnificent Majolica flourish you’ll therefore find both of these artworks featured in the gallery below. Each was drawn from a slightly different perspective so we’ve been able to pick out different elements across the two designs, although admittedly the snoozing cherub does appear twice! We hope you’ve enjoyed following this series as much as we’ve enjoyed putting it together – we have plans to digitise more from this amazing folio box in the future but for now we’ll leave you with a link to our In Depth page where you can revisit previous posts.

View the source artworks for the highlights above