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majolica

majolica (məjŏlˈĭkə, məyŏlˈ–) [key] or maiolica məyŏlˈĭkə [from Majorca], type of faience usually associated with wares produced in Spain, Italy, and Mexico. The process of making majolica consists of first firing a piece of earthenware, then applying a tin enamel that upon drying forms a white opaque porous surface. A design is then painted on and a transparent glaze applied. Finally the piece is fired again. This type of ware was produced in the ancient Middle East by the Babylonians, and the method remained continuously in use. It was extensively employed by the Hispano-Moresque potters of the 14th cent. By the mid-15th cent. majolica was popular in Italy, where it became justly famous through the decorations of the Della Robbia family. The method is still widely used in folk art.

See G. Liverani, Five Centuries of Italian Majolica (tr. 1960); M. Barnes and R. May, Mexican Majolica in Northern New Spain (1980).

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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