Plate (Italy), 1925
Gio Ponti is an esteemed and influential 20th-century Italian architect and designer. He graduated from the Politecnico di Milano in 1921 and started a practice with architects Mino Fiocchi and Emilio Lancia soon after. Ponti, however, did not limit himself to architecture. Throughout his career he explored many design disciplines, ranging from ceramics, glass, and cutlery design, to graphics, furniture, and industrial design. He was also the founding editor of the design magazine Domus, which he ran from 1928 to 1941, and again from 1947 until his death in 1979.
In 1923, the ceramics firm Richard Ginori hired Ponti as its artistic director, a post he held until 1930. He revised the firm’s output, designing both unique pieces and works that could be industrially produced. The plate under consideration is characteristic of the classically inspired wares produced early in his career, which brought international attention and accolades to both Ponti and the Ginori factory. The firm’s display at the 1925 Paris Exposition Internationale des Arts Décoratifs et Industriels Modernes won a Grand Prix, in great part due to Ponti’s ceramics, which showed classical forms and motifs filtered through his modern sensibility. Ponti designed ojbects of bold forms and proportions, with surface decoration possessing a two dimensional graphic quality accentuated by strong shapes in a minimal palette of two or three deep colors, often outlined or highlighted in gold.
This circular plate is decorated in a style and palette similar to a series first exhibited by Ponti in 1923, called La passeggiata archeologica (An archeological stroll), consisting of figures with a flat appearance, identified by an attribute or a specific pose, often set against a white ground or gilded background pattern. In this plate, the classical references are more subtle, since the figure is dressed in what looks to be a modern gown and shoes. She holds a tray with a loaf of bread and goblet in one hand and a leafy sprig in the other. Before her is a small structure suggestive of an ecclesiastical portal composed of simple shapes in gray and gold.
This piece would be the earliest example of Ponti’s decorative arts in the museum’s collection. The ceramic bowls by Ponti held by the museum at the time of proposed acquisition are decorated in a different manner, with stylized landscapes in a polychrome palette and without any gilding.
It is credited
Gift of the Estate of Edgar Sachs, from the Collection of Hilda G. and Edgar Sachs.
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Its dimensions are
H x diam.: 3.8 x 23.5 cm (1 1/2 x 9 1/4 in.)
It has the following markings
On underside: In an overglaze gold shield below the word "ITALIA Richard-Ginori/Pittoria/Di Doccia/1925"; underglaze "Ginori" with a star (partial) in green; "GÌÖPONTÌ" and 1925 between two outward facing arrows, in overglaze gold.
Cite this object as
Plate (Italy), 1925; Designed by Gio Ponti (Italian, 1891 - 1979); glazed and gilt porcelain; H x diam.: 3.8 x 23.5 cm (1 1/2 x 9 1/4 in.); Gift of the Estate of Edgar Sachs, from the Collection of Hilda G. and Edgar Sachs; 2008-42-15