Ferrara is known for its engraved pottery, a type of ceramic that originated in China and arrived in Italy through the Byzantine and Islamic civilizations.
The town was one of the most notable production centers, as the court of the House of Este ruling the region demanded high quality products and encouraged the making of ceramics as a form of art.
Today the reputation of Ferrara as a center of ceramic excellence is still very solid thanks to Riccardo Biavati, a ceramic sculptor whose innovative work has a great appeal both to the general public and the art connoisseur.
Ferrara really is a lovely town. Its historic center was included in the Unesco world heritage in 1995, as “the site is of outstanding universal value, being a Renaissance city, remarkably planned, which has retained its urban fabric virtually intact”. The nearby area is as rich of charming destinations as the town itself, with the unique natural landscape of the river Po Delta and the Este ducal residences, known as the “Delizie”.
Just as the town planning expressed in Ferrara during the Renaissance were to have a profound influence on the development of urban design throughout the succeeding centuries, so did its pottery. Ferrara ceramics are part of a long tradition of Italian engraved slip-coated earthenware. Just like majolica, they became very popular in Renaissance Italy, especially in Northern Italy.
The earthenware was coated in white slip, then an elaborate decoration was scratched through the surface, so that the subjects stood out on the background. The decoration was painted with metallic glazes that caused a variegated effect during the firing and produced the typical brownish, yellow and green colors.
Thanks to the encouragement of the House of Este, the princely dynasty who ruled Ferrara for many centuries, this is type of incised Italian ceramics raised from the level of folk-pottery to become a form of art.