Maiolica Analysis of Urbino Plate
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Using the Maiolica Model to analyze the Urbino Plate

Urbino Plate; 15th century, Medieval and Modern Museum, Australia

These kinds of plates, in the 'beautiful' style of the late fifteenth and sixteenth century, portray a high mode of artistic creation, with an emphasis on pictorial image and fluidity of image. The distinct foreground and background, with the proper proportioning of the figures, portrays the advancement in artistic depiction. This plate falls into the category of high art, pieces which were considered an expensive luxury.


Analysis of Object according to the Maiolica Model

1.The object is a circular, with multicoloured picture on it depicting a person; it is shiny, smooth with a border outline ; it looks like it was used as a plate, either as a wall-hanging or for eating.

2. It is made of ceramic, and glazed and cured in the system of maiolica production; the art is a painting on the surface of the unglazed plate. The art work itself is elaborate and depicts a mother and child in a field with trees and fruits surrounding them; there is another figure in the painting that is sitting on a tree. The setting is that of Renaissance Italy; Urbino, most likely.

4. The object is in good condition and is composed of a colour palette of various shades of blues, greens and browns. The proportions in the work and the emphasis on a triangular format with a distinct foreground and background makes this work very indicative of the Renaissance.

5. This object relates to others of plates made in the same time and geographical location, the work being representative of figures of antiquity.

6. This practice of reviving classical figures and icons was common in the Renaissance, and figures that were likened to Greek and Roman gods were popular, and the similarity in form, such as the proportions of the body, the kinds of clothing or lack thereof; the draping of textiles, the symbolic representations of objects which would relate the individual to godly characteristics (laurel wreath, staffs, feathers, gold, elaborate textiles, etc.) was popular.

7. The Renaissance celebrated and described the individual in the context of antiquity, with the added perspective that the individual was to be praised and celebrated, which fulfilled the humanistic notion of striving for a new emphasis on the achievements and capabilities of humankind. The religious significance of the figures, which appear to be similar to the Virgin and child, can be associated to the emphasis during this period on religious iconography. The naked male child and the partially robed male figure (it is unclear who it may be- perhaps Joseph) emphasize masculinity in the piece, particularly the rippling muscles of the adult figure. Such a piece would have been given as a gift and is classified as 'high art', an expensive decorative piece.

8. The design concept of the piece is evident in the decorative arts, architecture and literary production of the period, where an emphasis on achieving a balance and proportion that was considered harmonious and beautiful was stressed. These ideals are still popular in the interior design philosophy of today, with its stress on proportion and beauty of construction.

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