Vase thumbnail 1
Image of Gallery in South Kensington
On display at V&A South Kensington
Ceramics, Room 140, Factory Ceramics


1927 (made)
Place of origin

Straight sided porcelain vase on foot, with printed motifs depicting circus entertainments.

Object details

Object type
Materials and techniques
Porcelain with transfer-printed and painted enamel decoration
Brief description
Vase designed by Gio Ponti, amde by Richard-Ginori, 1927
Physical description
Straight sided porcelain vase on foot, with printed motifs depicting circus entertainments.
Marks and inscriptions
'Richard Ginori/ Pittoria/Doccia/1927+Ginori/27--+Gio Ponti/1927' (on the base)
Bibliographic reference
Frescobaldi Malenchini, Livia ed. With Balleri, Rita and Rucellai, Oliva, ‘Amici di Doccia Quaderni, Numero VII, 2013, The Victoria and Albert Museum Collection’, Edizioni Polistampa, Firenze, 2014 p.124, Cat. 115 115. “Circus” vase 1927 Gio Ponti (1891-1979, designer) for Richard-Ginori hard-paste porcelain decorated with chromolithography in colours retouched by hand h 19,3 cm; diam. 15,7 cm on the back a green stamp “Richard/three stars/Ginori/27-2 [?]/in gold Gio Ponti/1927/gold label Richard-Ginori/Pittoria di Doccia/1927” inv. C. 51-1976 purchase: £ 180 The simple shape of this cylindrical vase on a conical foot (mod. 270s) is a creation of Gio Ponti who, during the period in which he was artistic director of Richard-Ginori, applied many different types of decoration to it (GIO PONTI 1983, p. 31, 55-58, 92, 94-95, 132-135). This vase, which has the signature of the designer in gold under the base and the date 1927, has a decoration consisting of stylized people and animals scattered across the surface which is identified in the catalogues and price lists of the factory as “The Circus” or “The Equestrian Circus”. Besides the brightly coloured polychrome version shown here (dec. 900E; the complete development of the decoration is shown in PANSERA, PORTOGHESI 1982, p. 78-79), there was also a version painted in black, grey and gold (dec. 930E, an example is in the Museo di Doccia inv. 3197 illustrated in GIO PONTI 1983, p. 56 and p. 132, n. 230). The various scenes which make up the decoration, like the elephant with its trainer, the Chinese juggler, the cyclist and the clown, were used separately on small ashtrays (GIO PONTI 1983, p. 146, n. 311-315; CASPRINI 2003, p. 184, fig. 15) and on the elements of a set of tableware and a tea set (IMPORTANT 20TH CENTURY DECORATIVE ARTS 1997, lot 76). A vase similar to this one was shown at the Biennial of Decorative Arts at Monza in1927 (FALCONI 2004, p. 46) which was probably the year that it was first produced (GIOVANNINI 2009, p. 83).The idea of the circus had also inspired Ponti for a maiolica vase with decorations in relief made around 1924 (MANNA 2000, n. 70 p. 198 and GIO PONTI 2011, p. 122-123) and, in 1923 for a vase in cream ware with acrobats made at S. Cristoforo (MATTEONI, COLANTONIO 2010, p. [29]). In any case, the version of the vase shown here, with its light touch and merry dynamics is the most successful; it was published in a popular weekly, L’Illustrazione Italiana in 1927 (GASTALDI 1927, p. 277), in an advertisement in the monthly magazine Domus (1929, n. 2, p. 7), and it was described and highly praised by the art critic Raffaello Giolli in Emporium(GIOLLI 1929, p. 153 and 155, quoted in MATTEONI 2011, p. 28). The profound influence of this decoration has been recently confirmed by its frequent presence in publications and exhibitions on Ponti and the Art Déco style (MILANO DÉCO 1999, p. 74;GIO PONTI 2011, p. 95-96; LA FORZA DELLA MODERNITÀ 2013, n. 66 p. 132 and p. 333; DE GUTTRY, MAINO 2013, p. 20) and by a modern re-edition by Richard-Ginori with the decoration applied by decals on objects of various shapes. O.R. Bibliography: unpublished
Accession number

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Record createdApril 6, 2009
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