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The Howard I. and Janet H. Stein Collection of Italian Renaissance tin-glazed earthenware (maiolica) is the finest private collection of these ceramics in the United States. To celebrate the gift to the Philadelphia Museum of Art of this exceptional collection of 70 pieces, the Museum is presenting an exhibition of Renaissance maiolica in which the collection formed by Mr. Stein and his late wife is combined with related ceramics from Museum holdings.
Maiolica is the only Renaissance decorative art to survive in substantial numbers. These ceramics have long been prized for their various shapes, ornamentation, ambitious compositions, and especially for their colors that survive with undiminished brilliance.
The Stein Collection contains pieces from many of the important centers of production, like the towns of Deruta and Urbino, and includes some of the best-known ceramic painters: Xanto, Maestro Giorgio Andreoli, and members of the Fontana family. The collection is rich in wares made for pharmacies, and other objects for daily use, such as the charming pieces presented to women recovering from childbirth. The Stein Collection contains especially fine "istoriato" pieces decorated with complex compositions that illustrate stories from mythology and history. Previously, pieces in the Stein Collection belonged to such famous admirers of maiolica as Baron Adolphe de Rothschild of Paris and Robert Lehman of New York.
The pleasure of looking at these objects can be deepened by understanding the sources of the maiolica tradition, the methods by which the objects were made and by becoming aware of the research and treatment carried out on the individual pieces by the Museum's Conservation Department in order to prepare them for this exhibition.