Francesco Nonni ( Faenza 1885 – 1976 ), Pierrot and Columbina
Sculpture in polychrome ceramic cm 26 x 14 x 12 with, on the base, “La Faïence” Faenza kiln’s stamp.
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Refined interpreter of the deco art, Francesco Nonni begins very early to work as a carpenter at Castellini cabinet maker’s workshop. He attends the School of Art and Craft directed by Antonio Berti, where he knows Domenico Baccarini and joins his circle. He deals with xylography, making illustrations for books and magazines. He participates in graphic works at the Sempione Exhibition in Milan in 1906 and in the Venetian Biennial of 1910, 1912 and 1914. He attended the Free Nude School at the Academy of Florence and in 1915 began teaching sculpture at the Faenza School. During the war he is interned in a prison camp from which he returns at the end of the conflict. In 1919 he started to model shapes that translate into small-scale ceramics in the “La Faïence” kiln guided by Paolo Zoli and Pietro Melandri.
The most representative works of the first years of production are little ladies in 18th century dresses, modeled with large and emphasized skirts crushed in relation to the small busts and doll-like features, that hidden in figurative forms boxes with fragrances, scents, jewels, or sweets. In other cases, sculptures are applied on larger bases including lid containers that allow sculpture to be transformed into an inkpot.
The stylized pictorial decoration, exalted by the bright colors of enamels and metal luster, is mainly made of floral or geometric motifs, arabesque or peacock feathers, drawn from the Faenza tradition of ceramics or contemporary fabrics. The volumetrically compressed shapes, the sinuous lines of the figures and the precious pictorial decorations adopted by Nonni reveal evident affinities with the French deco directions and secessionists echoes ( known through the illustrations of the magazines ), who are well married with neo-18th century grace and elegance of ladies and knights, gigolo and dancers, colombinas and pierrots, whose sculpture presented here, dating to the period when the artist attended the “La Faïence” furnace guided by Paolo Zoli And Pietro Melandri, is a superb example.
The success of this kind of work is confirmed by the high number of imitations and counterfeits produced for a long time by other Italian manufactures, in the following years, such as the Cooperative Ceramic Society of Imola and La Salamandra of Perugia.