Pair of busts: Tragedy and Comedy

Faience, (tin-enameled earthenware), Sicily, Malvica, Palermo, 18th century


Museum Label:
Bust of Comedy
18th century
Artist: Malvica Factory
Palermo, Italy, 18th century
Tin-enameled earthenware (faience), 28 1/4 in. (71.8 cm)


Museum Label:
Bust of Tragedy
18th century
Artist: Malvica Factory
Palermo, Italy, 18th century
Tin-enameled earthenware (faience), 26 5/8 in. (67.6 cm)

These rare busts from a little-known provincial factory in Southern Italy are made of earthenware decorated to resemble expensive jasper, a red quartz gemstone. Designed to imitate classical models such as imperial busts, the subjects of tragedy and comedy are treated with a solemnity that belies their stereotyped subject matter and the inherent silliness of such humanized allegorical figures.

Museum purchase, 1962

The following is from: "The Pages"

Pair of busts: Tragedy and Comedy
Marks:
        None
Provenance:    Museum purchase, Marcello Guided, Florence, December, 1962

These busts purport to have been made at the Manuffatura di Malvica, Palermo, which has proved, thus far, impossible to trace.

Made of earthenware, each is realistically modeled in classical robes, and is raised on a waisted socle with squared base. Tragedy has a brown and white mottled glaze; the similar brown and white glaze on Comedy is spiced with yellow.

They possible originated as decorations in one of the any little theatres attached to the great palaces of Palermo in the eighteenth century.

Originally the workshops of Sicily had been influenced by Moorish design, but this was quite swept away when Renaissance period imports appeared from Venice, Casteldurante, and Faenza.

Heights:    Tragedy, 26 5/8 in. (67.6 cm.) S.N.: 5021
        Comedy, 28 in. (71.8 cm.) S.N.: 5022

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