A-Z of Ceramics - X is for Xanto
Francesco Xanto Avelli of Rovigo is the most famous decorator of pottery of the Renaissance, but also the most enigmatic. A literary man, working for most of his career in Urbino, Xanto specialised in 'istoriato' maiolica, a style in which the whole surface of a plate or pot was covered with a painted scene. He often derived his figures from prints, combining them to form his own compositions.
Between 1530 to 1542 Xanto signed many of his works. In 1530, he was part of a group of maiolica painters in Urbino who demanded higher wages from their patrons. The workshop owners responded with a blacklist of painters, who could only be employed at set fees and with general approval of all patrons. It is likely that this incident prompted Xanto to sign his works in full. There has been much speculation about Xanto's work before 1520 and various groups of 'istoriato' maiolica with different marks have been attributed to him.