Italian Renaissance ceramics, a catalogue of the British Museum’s collection

Project team



  • Timothy Wilson, Keeper of Western Art, The Ashmolean Museum
  • Jeremy Warren, Head of Collections, The Wallace Collection

Supported by

  • Rainer Zietz; Ceramica-Stiftung, Basel
  • Bernd and Eva Hockemeyer Foundation, Bremen
  • Beate Kuckei-Funke, Berlin

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This is a comprehensive scholarly catalogue of the British Museum’s magnificent collection of Italian Renaissance ceramics, including tin-glazed and lead-glazed wares and rare Medici porcelain.

The nearly 500 entries include full colour illustrations, complementary photographs, and line drawings of profiles and marks. Also included are records of pieces destroyed in air raids during World War II and discussion of fakes and doubtful pieces (an area of particular importance for collectors, dealers, and auction houses).

Particular attention has been given to patronage (the collection includes works made for such eminent Renaissance patrons as Pope Leo X, Isabella d’Este, and Francesco Guicciardini), to the relationship with painting and the other arts of Renaissance Italy, and to the history of collecting and the role of the British Museum collection in developing the international study of the subject.

The catalogue entries incorporate the result of a long and detailed programme of scientific analysis of the clays used by Renaissance potters. It also draws upon the latest archaeological finds in Italy and elsewhere in Europe. Its usefulness to students of the art and culture of Renaissance Italy is enhanced by a map, detailed index and the fullest bibliography of the subject ever published.


The aim of this research project is to present the latest interdisciplinary research on this important collection in one catalogue. It sets out to describe, illustrate and analyse the pieces fully, writing clearly and succinctly. The Introduction, map, glossary and index are also intended to make the catalogue a fundamental and indispensable source of reference for those interested in Renaissance maiolica and Renaissance art in general.

This project has been completed.