Gio Ponti (Italian, 18911979); Manufacturer: Richard–Ginori
Porcelain; H. 19 3/4 in. (50.2 cm)
Purchase, Edward C. Moore Jr. Gift, 1931 (31.83ab)
Known for the broad scope of his work, including architecture, industrial and graphic design, teaching, and publishing, Gio Ponti was one of the most important and influential figures of the twentieth-century design world. Though a committed modernist, his work always maintained a respect for tradition and history.
Among Ponti's earliest projects was a series of porcelain vases designed for the Manuffatura Richard-Ginori, for whom he worked as artistic director from 1923 to 1930. These pieces, intended to be mass produced, were all designed on the theme of classicismthe national patrimony of Italy. This particular model, entitled "An Archaeological Stroll," presents classical imagery from the great moments in Italian cultural history: Roman antiquity, the Renaissance, and the Neoclassical period of the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. Motifs such as columns, urns, candelabra, and sundials alternate with animated human figures in period-appropriate costumes, all set against a patterned ground suggesting marble masonry. Such imagery not only appealed to Ponti's nationalistic impulsescelebrating Italy's continuing contributions to art, architecture, and sciencebut, in its chic stylization, was also fashionably up-to-date.