Project Description

Federico Melis (Bosa 1891 – Urbania 1969), Girl from Oliena, Sardinia

Tile, painted and glazed terracotta measuring 20 x 20 cm with a seal bearing the signature (Melis-Sardegna) on the back.


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Trained at the school of Francesco Ciusa, in the early 1920s, Federico Melis gained a prominent place in the history of the great Sardinian pottery tradition, reaching the realization of hot cooking of the pieces, a technique he experimented in an Assemini oven. It is the artist himself who recalls, on the occasion of the second trade union exhibition of art, in 1931, his long labors, before obtaining the desired result: “If I have lost ten years to study the technique of ceramics (learn the very young!), I did it to get hold of the material so as to make it docile and obedient to my spiritual possibilities”.

Particularly cured in form, synthetic and stylized, and characterized by chromatic sobriety corresponding to the prevailing Déco taste of the time, Federico Melis’s ceramics, inspired by an exclusive regionalism, stand as fundamental milestones for the journey of Sardinian art in the 20th century. century. The intent to ennoble the island’s folklore was the main inspiration for him, even when in 1932 he moved to Rome, where he opened a laboratory in collaboration with his brother Melkiorre.

Federico Melis

In the production of Melis, Sardinia finds a new form of artistic expression that enhances the variety of myths and stories: mystical women gathered in prayer, knights and warriors with the scepter in their hands on fantastic horses, bridal figures in their brocade costumes and gold, Barbagia maidens.

History and legend merge in the iconographic repertoire devised by the master of Bosa, who had the merit of identifying a vein that was then virgin and nowadays very modern, the Phoenician subject in Sardinian sculpture and definitely broaden the range of typological solutions of local female figures, adding, among others, to the gallery of existing models, the sulcitana, the Olianese and especially the woman of Ollolai on which she imprinted her masterpiece of the Sardinian period, “The Ancient Bride”, executed in 1930. It is precisely to this iconographic model that can be in all likelihood the firm profile of this woman is brought back with the classic dark headdress enriched by a floral decorative motif of an intense yellow that stands out clearly on the chromatic values of this tile characterized by a clear blue monochrome background.