Curiosities about the ancient pottery of Deruta (The Archaic production)
Published by Grazia Ranocchia-Mod Ceramics on Jun 15th 2022
The first reliable documentation to bear witness to ceramic production in Deruta dates back to the middle ages. A document of 1290, one of the oldest to come to light, informs us that the church of San Nicolo' in Deruta, subordinate to the chapter of the cathedral in Perugia and therefore obliged to pay an annual tribute, paid it with a "load of vases" specifically:(12 amphorae, 12 amphorettes, 6 'Lavandari' (small basins), 50 jugs and 100 'gavate').It is not possible to establish for how long this practice had existed, but it does suggest that ceramic activity in the Deruta aerea was widespread, established and well-know. Thanks to research carried out at the Perugia State Archive By Orietta Boini in 1976, an important document has been traced dating back to 1336: a notorial protocal drawn by Giovanni Contucci, a notary from Deruta, it contains evidence that the guilt of potters was thriving and throws light upon the relations which existed with the Perugia College. The Franciscan archive in Assisi contributes to outlining the Medieval production in Deruta. A written document dating back to 1358 makes mention of a certain Cecce d'Alessandro, a potter who sold hundreds of pieces of pottery to the friars at the convent, including "yellow vases, white vases, green anphorae, small white jugs, small basins and other earthenware", for which the friars also paid the transport expenses from Deruta. From the point of view of quality, it is difficult, given the present state of reserch, to give a precise connotation the Mediaeval production of Deruta, though on the basis of the fragments available for examination, overall it does not seem to diverge much from that of Central Italy. Even if Orvieto was probably the Umbrian centre where forms of the archaic style found their widest expression, with decorative motives, at times of an elaborate nature, being proposed in several variations (alongside the simple vegetable and animal decorations drawn in green and brown, more complex representations such as monsters and mermaids do in fact appear), the numerous finds discovered in the Deruta subsoil allow for the identification of a fairly simple production, consisting for the most part of objects for everyday use such as vases, wine and water jugs, bowls and basins and the decorations, in the typical two-color scheme of the archaic style, depict on the whole geometric motives and rapid stylisations of flowers and leaves.