Italian Ceramics from Castelli – State Hermitage Museum Collection

February 5 – May 11, 2008
St Petersburg – Russia

Italian ceramic large albarello vase - Castelli 1735 - Private collectionThe awesome Italian majolicas from Castelli belonging to the Hermitage Fund have just returned to St Petersburg after a very successful tour in Italy.
The State Hermitage Museum will feature them in the Blue Bedroom of the Winter Palace until May 11th, 2008.

The Hermitage collection includes 77 works that were purchased in Italy by Russian art merchants on behalf of the Russian Tsars and other wealthy families between the 16th and the 17th century.
They had excellent taste: they bought pieces painted by the most talented masters in Castelli, such as Carmine Gentile, Carlo Antonio Grue, Pompeo de Bernamonte, Orazio Pompei, Francesco Antonio Grue, Nicola Cappelletti.

Castelli is a small hill town in the Abruzzo region of eastern Italy mountains. In the 16th century, it was one of the most important and celebrated centers of Italian ceramics. The istoriato pieces made in Castelli were very much sought after. The most powerful Italian and European families – Aragon, Farnese, Colonna, Orsini – commissioned their everyday and elegant dinnerware sets and the pieces meant to celebrate important political or private events.

The exhibition in St Petersburg provides the visitor with the unique opportunity toDecorated dish - Carlo Antonio Grue - Private collection review almost all the themes and ceramic styles that developed in Castelli from the 16th to the 18th century. And all the pieces owned by the Museum are of the utmost quality and importance in the history of ceramic art.

The 16th-century istoriato is excellently represented by some masterpieces from the Orsini-Colonna collection. Apothecary jars, pitchers and plates were ordered to the most talented family of artists in Castelli, the Pompei’s, to celebrate the peace between the Orsini and the Colonna families.

Pompei’s pottery was very distinctive: they used to decorate all the surface of their pieces with elaborate istoriato scenes, often saints, heroes from Roman history, and portraits of men and women.

Unlike the rest of Italy, the pottery production in Castelli kept growing in the following centuries, both in quality and quantity thanks to the talent of the Grue family.

Italian ceramic large vase - Carlo Antonio Grue - Private collectionThe Collection also includes some beautiful works by Francesco and Carlo Antonio Grue.
They used light nuances of the classical colors, yellow, green, blue and orange, to paint lively and harmonious landscapes, cruel battles, scenes from the Bible or the Myth, or, more originally, from daily life.

Nine masterpieces by Carlo Antonio Grue (1655-1723) are featured in the Hermitage exhibition. His talent and creative approach to historical themes rose the baroque majolica to unprecedented heights.

Fifteen Rococo works by Carmine Gentile (1678-1763) are also part of the Collection, with two rare signed pieces: a dish with Ceres and Proserpine and a small plate with Bacchus and Ariadne.

State Hermitage Museum
Dvortsovaya Naberezhnaya, 34 –
St Petersburg, Russia
Tue/Sat: 10.30/17.00 – Sun: 10:30/16:00
Closed Mondays
Tel. (812) 710-90-79, (812) 710-96-25

3 thoughts on “Italian Ceramics from Castelli – State Hermitage Museum Collection

  1. I would like some information on 2 pieces by Donato Rosa Castelli. They were my mother in laws.

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