The town of the people’s art
The earliest settlements in Deruta were favored by the ready availability of clay found in great quantities in the Deruta hills and in the alluvial deposits of the Tiber River; the town’s favorable geographical position, due to its proximity to major roads, fostered the development of the potters’ work and their trade.
A considerable number of archival documents and ceramic works testify how ceramics have been produced in Deruta uninterruptedly from the Middle Ages until today; the evidence forms a picture of Deruta taking shape, especially in the 15th and 16th centuries, and again in the 20th century, as an extraordinary phenomenon of a mono economy based on the production of pottery. This continuity means that, in the stylistic and technical evolution of Deruta pottery, one recognizes all the milestones achieved also by the other pottery towns of central and northern Italy, often with important breakthroughs and original solutions, such as in the case of the Renaissance lusterware. This is due to Deruta’s role as a crossroads from the 14th to the 16th century, when various artistic developments were amalgamated in a fruitful sharing of ideas and experiences. The migration of master potters to and from Deruta was in fact a phenomenon that affected the town early on and that would remain constant until recent times. It also explains the contaminations and original designs that have distinguished the art of Deruta for centuries.
During the Renaissance, the domination of the market, the artistic awareness and the technical mastery of the Deruta potters have made ceramics an art that bestowed great prestige on those who practice it: “Since their tender years and continuously since then they have practiced and practice today the people’s art, that is, in making and painting pottery and other works in clay.” - From application for citizenship made to the Priors of Perugia by Simone and Nicolò di Raffaele of Deruta, December 28, 1501.