Add the perfect Spring and Summer accents by decorating with Majolica pottery!
I’m a bit late getting this post out since Summer is right around the corner, but the great thing about decorating with Majolica pottery is that it works for Spring or Summer decor!
The French Vaisselier cabinet in the breakfast room was the perfect piece to showcase a collection of the highly sought after Majolica.
By pairing the pottery with other Spring elements, it added just the right amount of color and texture to the dark stain of the French cabinet.
Many years ago I had a huge collection of Majolica pottery displayed on open shelves in the breakfast room of the home that we owned at the time. I had collected it for many years, and I was particularly fond of the cabbage, lettuce, and asparagus designed Majolica.
Over the years, Majolica lost it’s popularity and after we moved to another home, I went in a different decorating direction and ended up selling all but a few pieces of this beautiful pottery.
Over the last year or so, Majolica pottery has surged in popularity again and I have found myself drawn to collecting it once more, and I’ve picked up a few pieces here and there.
When Spring arrived, I decided to change things up in the French Vaisselier and replace the ironstone, that’s typically displayed there, with Majolica.
For well over 25 years, I’ve had a couple of pieces of Majolica that are very special to me because my son bought them for me at Harrods in England when he visited with his church youth group. So even though I had sold off most of my earlier collection, these two cherished pieces were packed away in storage. After unpacking them, they were the first to get displayed.
One of these pieces was a gorgeous rabbit tureen with a figural rabbit top, and the other a beautiful asparagus cachepot.
The rabbit tureen wouldn’t fit into the shelves because of it’s size, so I separated the two pieces, placing the figural rabbit lid on one side, and the tureen bottom filled with velvet carrots on the other.
So what exactly is Majolica?
Majolica is a type of glazed jewel-toned pottery. It was widely produced in Europe and America in the second half of the 19th Century, but its roots are much older.
During the Renaissance, a collection of majolica (pronounced ma-JOL-e-ka) signified affluence and good taste, and it was considered to be the perfect gift for important occasions such as engagements, weddings or births.
The most dominant themes found in Majolica are fauna and flora, especially leafy patterns, and many of the items made from majolica were fun and humorous. Almost anything was made in majolica: teapots, butter pats, oyster plates, mugs, platters and other dinnerware, and figurals.
Any small grouping of Majolica makes quite an impact and brightens any room that it’s displayed in.
Majolica was made originally by 14th Century potters and was popularized in the mid-15th Century. It takes its name from the Spanish island of Majorca, from which it was exported to Italy during the Italian Renaissance.
It soon made its way across Europe and eventually to America, where it made its debut at the Philadelphia Centennial Exhibition in 1876.
Almost all the majolica made in the 19th and 20th Centuries was from a mold, and the more intricate the pattern, the more desirable, especially pieces that feature raised decorations.
Even though this decorative pottery fell out of fashion, over the last few years, it has been making a comeback, and because of its popularity, reproductions are plentiful. Many potters are making majolica today, but many collectors covet those early pieces.
The pieces I’m usually drawn to are the asparagus, lettuce, and cabbage design, and anything with turquoise or blue in it. I’m also enamored with any kind of Majolica marked “France”, but unfortunately those pieces are extremely hard to come by. As with any collection I have, at some point I will start editing and weeding out some pieces, and only buying those pieces that fit my aesthetic.
Mixed in with the Majolica are a few other elements such as velvet carrots and strawberries, greenery, boxwood wreaths, and of course, some little birds.
As with most popular antiques, the cost of a piece of old majolica can run pretty high, especially if it’s in pristine condition. Majolica is made of a soft and porous material, so it chips easily. However, many times this doesn’t detract at all. Several of the pieces displayed in my cabinet have chips or flakes, but that doesn’t take away from their beauty. I consider them more of a work of art than everyday pottery.
Pieces can run anywhere from $10-$15 for a small plate to thousands of dollars for a set of dishes. But if you’re patient, you can often find bargains at flea markets, yard or estate sales, and with today’s reproductions, Majolica is affordable for anyone to collect.
Almost all the early majolica was made from molds, and the more intricate the pattern, the more desirable, especially pieces that featured raised decorations.
Most majolica is unmarked, but the European pieces often feature a mark or a series of numbers pressed in before firing. And today’s reproductions will most likely have the manufacturer’s stamp on the bottom.
When I buy Majolica, I tend to look more for the design and color, rather than by maker.
I added a bouquet of lavender and eucalyptus in ironstone to the center of the old farm table and a a few gorgeous pink and white hydrangeas on the kitchen bar to complete the room.
And, of course, no room is complete without an appearance by my little monkey, Miss RubyLou!
She has to be in whatever room I’m working in and usually gets right in the way of the camera, so now I just pose her for a couple of shots and that makes her happy.
So many of you tell me that no post is complete without seeing her!
I hope you’ve enjoyed seeing the Spring and early Summer elements that I’ve brought into the breakfast room! And perhaps, it’s inspired you to start your own collection!
The Majolica has made the breakfast room and kitchen bright with color, and I love it, but I will say that I miss the ironstone collection. It probably won’t be long before it’s back out on display!