0
0,00  0 items

No products in the cart.

Women's stories

"...a hand characteristic of the Salerno area, famous for Vietri, is recognised by a ceramic solo: it is Ernestine. Her shapes and colours move from Art Nouveau evocations and free themselves in lively movements and hues”.

Cava de' Tirreni, SA, Italy

Art historian

Naples, Italy

Maria Grazia Gargiulo

"...a hand characteristic of the Salerno area, famous for Vietri, is recognised by a ceramic solo: it is Ernestine. Her shapes and colours move from Art Nouveau evocations and free themselves in lively movements and hues”.

A focus, organized as part of the International Matres Festival, an important time for the enhancement and exhibition of women's work in the arts, was dedicated to this figure of ceramist/designer.

It is flowers, to be drawn as infinite signs of a world where nature is woman: flowers thanks to which Ernestine represents a happy ceramic island, capable of involving those who simply look at her “objects.” A few years had passed since World War II everything was gray, where fears had zeroed in on men and things, and the reference to the chronicle remained a further testimony to the dramas experienced. Then re-beginning precisely from nature appeared the way out to take. 

Ernestine Cannon designs and plays with decorations, she creates a series of objects for domestic environments that have a new force full of light, an energy given by nature, a generating mother capable in all its forms of moving the world. Her home, becomes the space of art, the main source of inspiration. In the very few shots that tell us about her, we remember her in her home in Ravello, in her beloved garden. Photographed at her desk, with floral compositions of still-lives, we see her drawing in front of a large vase of flowers.

She was an avid floriculturist whose art poured into her garden care, and her surrounding herself with beauty made her a sensitive and creative woman. Ernestine’s works testify to the need for one of a tale. The adventurous story of her exhilarating and privileged career as a designer-ceramist allows her to bring to life a world made of flowers, realizing jasmine, ferns, daisies, leaves, anemones, violets, and so many types of leaves.

As a mother of a nature that has the flavor of botany, study and observation, Ernestine works on preparatory drawings in watercolor, to be transported later to ceramics. Her works selected for this small tribute to the ceramist are seen varieties of violets, scattered leaves, enchanting flowers, enlargements of buds, with decoration so recognizable that it is her signature.

The discovery of nature, especially the study of flowers: they were her fortune, the capital from which to start again without forgetting The Importance of Being Called Ernestine.

American Ernestine Virden Cannon (1904-1969) arrived in Italy in the mid-1940s and chose to settle in Salerno. Architect Gio Ponti called her from the pages of Domus magazine “the longest-lived woman potter in the world.” And it is thanks to her and architect Matteo D’ Agostino that the artistic adventure of industrial production of Ernestine ceramics began in the late 1940s, a dream that would last until 1968.

Drawing, form and decoration are the stylistic figures of the two protagonists: Ernestine Cannon and Matteo D’ Agostino. The former with the watercolor technique gives life to a series of highly modern floral decorative motifs, the latter, heir to a family of ceramic manufacturers in Salerno, is a creator of new forms and modernist interior designs. Together they renew the Vietrese ceramic tradition and conquer foreign markets, especially the American one, becoming already in the 1950s one of the leading factories of industrial design in Italy; valuable is the collaboration of a young German ceramic engineer, Horst Simonis, who represents the “third” strong point. Thanks to Simonis, the factory becomes a true center of research and experimentation on colors and glazes.

The famous “Selenium Red” and “Cobalt Blue” were born, coloring the many furnishing complements designed by Cannon for the home and shaped by the strength of D’ Agostino; which are still cult objects among international collectors.

ERNESTINE

curtesy@ Francesca Salemme Collection 

I thank Francesca Salemme for her story

AUGUST 2022

Quando ero bambina, a casa mia si mangiava in piatti floreali dai colori sgargianti. Erano i piatti di Ernestine. Tutt’ora uno dei servizi più usati sulla tavola di mia madre, nei pranzi e nelle cene estive, è quello col decoro Amaryllis, sopravvissuto all’uso e ai traslochi pressoché intatto. Di un altro, invece – piatto piano monocolore turchese, piatti fondo e da dolce con una ghirlanda di frutti – è rimasta solo la formaggiera, ad imperitura memoria di quello che fu. Nella mia memoria, invece, resta il ricordo, nitido anche se ero piccolissima, delle volte in cui mia madre mi portava con sé in un posto – che poi ho scoperto essere una fabbrica ceramica, la fabbrica dell’Ernestine in via Irno – a scegliere vasi, piatti, forme da comprare per sé o regalare alle amiche. Come premio per la pazienza e la compostezza (non ricordo di avere mai rotto nulla in quella sede) ricevevo uno dei salvadanai di ceramica, a forma di gatto o di elefantino (anche se mi piacevano moltissimo anche i posacenere a forma di balena).È stato in virtù di quel ricordo infantile che, ad un certo punto, complice un tè – servito in una tazza bianca col decoro di un crisantemo dal profilo nero e col manico intrecciato – che ho cominciato a raccogliere prima e a collezionare poi le ceramiche di quella che ho scoperto essere la più famosa fabbrica salernitana del secondo dopoguerra, nata dal sodalizio tra l’americana Ernestine Virden Cannon (1904–1969), la donna venuta dal nulla e Matteo D’Agostino (1905-1968). Mentre raccoglievo piatti e forme, gatti e decori (cerco disperatamente da anni una pietra lunare grande, ma questa è un’altra storia) mi sono appassionata alla loro vicenda privata (appassionata e tormentata) ed imprenditoriale (appassionante d’esemplare), una storia che potrebbe tranquillamente essere la trama di un film: non molti sanno che uno dei decori è dedicato ed ispirato al loro amore tormentato e riunisce le lacrime di lei ed il cuore spezzato di entrambi… La Signora del Nord arrivata in maniera avventurosa a Salerno durante il secondo conflitto mondiale, nell’Italia ancora spezzata in due tra occupazione tedesca ed avanzata alleata, dette una svolta alle ceramiche d’arte dell’area salernitana, emancipandole da Vietri e proiettandole in un mercato mondiale. Ernestine colse la spinta felice dovuta alla fine del conflitto, lo spirito nuovo della ricostruzione, l’uscita dalla catastrofe, il futuro speranzoso e luminoso del moderno, trasferendo quello spirito nei decori luminosi e nelle forme moderne, comunque legate all’immaginario del luogo: lei curò i primi, floreali, colorati, leggiadri, essenziali; Matteo le seconde, sinuose, morbide, sorprendenti.

IMAGES

cartarrow-uparrow-right