A large majolica tondo decorated with the heraldic coat of arms of the Martini family of Florence surrounded by a highly decorative sculptural garland (lot 1, estimated value Euro 8,000 – 12,000), takes us back to the complex history of Florentine heraldry, so much influenced by the secular vicissitudes between the People and the Magnates in the most turbulent centuries of the Tuscan city’s history. After the years in which the elites were obliged, for the sake of peace and republican government, to renounce not only their names but even their family coat of arms, the Florence of the early 16th century, now largely in peace under the rule of the Medici, saw families display their coats of arms not only in stone or other more fragile materials, but often in glazed terracotta, a production brought to excellence by the della Robbia family.
Thus they ordered coats of arms with sparkling polychromy to be applied to the façades of their palaces or inside their courtyards: and so probably did the Martini family. Rightly proud of their belonging to the town oligarchy, just then confirmed by their position as prior in 1511, they probably turned to Benedetto and Santi Buglioni to have their own coat of arms made in the most fashionable material.
The majolica of Collesano is permeated by a very strong Renaissance culture, mediated through prototypes from Palermo ( it is not by chance that many craftsmen arrived from Palermo to work in the local kilns) and, even earlier, from Faenza. However, the taste for trophies, already so characteristic and central to 16th-century ceramic culture, here declines in a pictorial freedom that is such a part of the charm of these Sicilian majolica pieces. The majolica alberello dated 1666 (lot 52, estimate Euro 1,000 – 2,000) is a major addition to one of the lesser known productions of the seventeenth-century Sicilian panorama. And here, thanks to the signature and date, elegantly inserted in a classical cartouche, it is possible to link this taste to precise years.