Museo Archeologico e della Ceramica
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The Museo Archeologico e della Ceramica in its present state was inaugurated in 1989 and, as the name indicates, concerns two large thematic divisions: the archaeology of the territory and the history of the ceramics of Montelupo.
The first section is preceded by an educational exhibit stressing the environmental transformation of this area of the Florentine Middle Valdarno and presenting the results of over twenty years of excavations and topographical studies, and the consequent formation, in Montelupo, of one of the most important collections of Prehistory in Tuscany, as well as a vast documentation on many protohistorical, Etruscan and Roman sites.
On its two upper floors the museum houses excavation material regarding the production of ceramics in Montelupo beginning with the origins of the art in the late 13th century and up to the 18th century.
The exhibition, preceded by an introductory section on the technology and evolution of types of medieval and later ceramics, begins with the early examples of archaic majolica, continues with pieces dating to the 15th century, which bear witness to the emerging of Montelupo as the most important of the pottery producing centers in Tuscany.
The ceramics, almost exclusively in majolica, were inspired at the time by the prestigious glazed pottery from the area of Valencia (above all Manises), from which it gradually freed itself in the latter decades of the century.
The many Renaissance pieces on exhibit reveal a vast network of commissions, to which the coats of arms of important noble families often hear witness. Around the middle of the seventeenth century the crisis that had begun earlier became irreversible, and led to the creation of cheaper, more simply decorated types. Symbolic of the split that gradually manifested itself between a more cultured and a folk production in this period are the harlequins, a figured type which, although it derives from a cultured style (historiated) ends up by becoming folk art in which the heroes of a peasant culture are often represented.
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