Mastro Giorgio is one of the most famous eugubinian personalities in the world, a real artistic pride of our city. From Paris to London, from New York to Pesaro, from St. Petersburg to Rotterdam, whoever can admire the works of this great master. In many parts of the world, in fact, you can appreciate the perfection of his works even more than in Gubbio (it's enough to say that in his hometown there are in permanent exhibition only few of the 600, 700 works of his whole production).
Many people have tried to follow his footsteps and recreate his
full of secrets, which had made him famous for
the ceramic art
a technique, the secrets of which he took away with him in his tombstone.
Giorgio Andreoli, better known as "Mastro Giorgio", was born in Intra (presently called Verbania, on the Maggiore lake) round about the year 1465-70 and died in Gubbio in 1555. His long activity as a potter was totally developed in Gubbio with his brothers Salimbene and Giovanni, who all three moved to Gubbio in about 1490.
Thanks to the prosperity of their work, Giorgio and his brothers bought land, houses and a shop in the quarter of "St. Andrea". From this, according to the historical eugubinian, Giuseppe Mazzatinti, the surname "Andreoli" is derived, which never appeared in acts before 1523.
The year after, in 1498, mastro Giorgio asked for and obtained eugubinian citizenship for himself and his brothers, Giovanni and Salimbene, later renewed in 1519 by Pope Leone X without time limits, due to "their excellence in majolic art, and nobody reached their high level of quality", and "for the honour that the city, the Lord and the commune of Gubbio received in all the Nations where the pottery was taken from his factory and for the great earning and utility of the customs."
In 1525 Giorgio associates himself with a painter of Casteldurante (Giovanni Luca) to ask him to paint vases, on which he applied the "reflections", and called another master (Federico) from Urbino, who made vases "Bene et fideliter" (well and exactly).
In 1536 he separated from his brothers' inheritants (Salimbene died before 1523, Giovanni in 1535) and from that year the shop was run by his sons Vincenzo (Cencio) and Ubaldo, even if his activity didn't cease until about 1541.
In 1547 the two brothers, with the permission of their father and with the specific contract, formed a society among themselves for art practice in their father's shop: Cencio assumed the job of the manufacturing of all kinds of vases, Ubaldo that of painting them and having them painted, also to complete the vases painted with majolics, with gold colour, violet, mother of pearl finishing, ruby red, a colour which only Mastro Giorgio had created. Therefore often on the same work of art you could find the signature of the artist who painted it, as well as the eugubinian master who finished off the work of art with the shining finish.
Therefore often on the same work of art we find both the signature of the artist who painted it and that of the eugubinian master who finished off the work with the shining effect.
The first phase of Mastro Giorgio's artistic activity if unknown. The most antique work of art known today, edged off with shiny red ruby and gold, is a plate dated back to 1515 conserved at the Victoria and Albert Museum of London; other sure pieces are dated back to 1518, signed and marked by the eugubinian master at the back of the work (sometimes with M G, sometimes with the whole name followed by the date or by the words "in Ugubio").
We can't strictly affirm that Giorgio found new decorative compositions. Long since his workshop followed ornamental schemes used in Deruta; then (in about 1525) those of Faenza and Casteldurante, and finally (1530) those of Urbino.
During his activity Mastro Giorgio produced simpler and less appreciated works, and in certain works he was helped by other artists of the area. But his fame remained unchanged with time, and in 1911 an english collectionist paid 2520 pounds for a signed plate dated back to 1522.
The secret of the chemical process which made the eugubinian potter so famous, which seemed to be lost, was partially rediscovered amd used on enamel and painted ceramics at the half of the XIX century.