We were headed to Montelupo on our first scouting trip for our website when we saw on the right side of the road a beautiful old stone house and a signpost – ceramica ND Dolfi.
Manuela and I exchanged glances and one minute after we entered the gate of this astounding property.
Scattered across the lawn far from the driveway some ceramic sculptures welcomed the visitor.
A nice lady met us and agreed to open the show room. The beauty of the works we saw was a perfect match with the place: an old limonaia or orangery, a stone building were citrus trees used to be wintered. She told us that her husband Silvano was a pottery artist, now retired, and her daughters, Natalia and Daria, had taken over the family business.
We decided on the spot that we absolutely wanted that pottery for our Italian ceramics website and went to visit Natalia and Daria in their new studio. They were very busy but we managed to squeeze in, view some works and make an appointment to take some pictures. Silvano was never mentioned directly but somehow his hand was everywhere, especially in the large panels on the wall and the one-of-a-kind pieces that were scattered all over the place.
The second time we were there, Manuela was wandering in the huge studio with her camera, when she was attracted by a man, seated on an old chair, concentrated on painting a vase. She asked him if she could take a picture and he reluctantly agreed. You could tell he was shy and not used at all to be in the spotlight. We thought he was a painter from Daria’s and Natalia’s team. But no. It was Silvano Dolfi, one of the most important pottery artists in Tuscany and, as he said during a TV interview, a man who was just doing his job.
That was the only time we met him. Still both Manuela and I have always been fond of this memory, instinctively feeling that we had witnessed something important. A simple man and his talent at work.
Silvano Dolfi passed away a few weeks ago, surrounded by his family and his works.
We wish to pay a tribute to the man and the artist as we really feel lucky for having met him.
Silvano Dolfi was born in 1934. He started his apprentice at 12, working with local potters. After graduating from the Accademia delle Belle Arti in Florence he founded his own factory, always managing to innovate his production while maintaining a had core of quality. His talent has largely contributed to the re-birth of the tradition of pottery making in Montelupo as well as to Italian ceramic art.