‘Flower Painter’ Mid-Century Italian Ceramics – An Update

MilviaTeaTowel2A few months ago, I published a post about some exciting new Italian ceramics by the mysterious ‘Flower Painter’ that I had found. You can read the post by clicking here. As they sadly didn’t reveal the identity of the designer or factory, but just tantalised with more clues, I set the challenge of finding out more.
A number of you very kindly got back to me with different names found on similar ceramics in your collections. These included ‘Milvia’ and ‘Simo’, the latter found by George from Virginia, USA on a vase. I’m usually very suspicious about names signed in the image on Italian ceramics, mainly as they were usually simply put there to add value, making the vase look ‘artist-signed’. The most notable examples of this were made in San Marino.
MilviaGirlVase1Although I can’t find anything more out about Simo (yet?), Milvia ‘has legs’. A little light research shows that the name also appears on a range of tea towels produced in 1973 for a homewares company called Zucchi of Milan. In terms of the design of the face and the colours used, the designs are strikingly like those used by the ‘Flower Painter’. Yes, the style is smoother and less crayon-like, but that would be expected after some 15 years as as it’s a printed design. And, most importantly, Milvia is signed in the same way on the vase and the tea towel.
Promising, eh? I thought so, until Julian Vincent emailed me and popped in to see me at January’s Battersea Decorative Antiques & Textiles Fair to show me his research. An ardent fan of Italian mid-century ceramics, his wife told me that he had made it his mission to find out the identify of the Flower Painter. So he contacted some Italian friends to ask their opinion, and began buying every piece he could find from across the world.
QuadrifoglioVaseHe found a number of ceramics (including the vase, left) decorated in the same way and made from the same sort of clay marked ‘Quadrifoglio’ on the bases, usually along with ‘Florence’ and ‘Made Italy’ in an oval mark (below right). This would suggest that the flower with four petals is in fact a clover with four leaves – hence quadrifoglio, which is Italian for ‘four leaf clover’. It’s highly likely that the mark changed to a stamped version as the Florence-based company grew through the 1960s.
QuadrifoglioMarkSome of these ceramics (marked with either the Quadrifoglio name or the four-leaf motif) were also marked ‘Coop Ceramic Arts‘ or ‘Coop‘, perhaps suggesting some form of co-operative company arrangement. Would it be too much to read into this that sometimes artists/decorators were allowed to sign (their) names on a piece? Could that be the origin of Milvia and even Simo?
QuadrifoglioLabelRight now, more information about Quadrifoglio is scant. As well as vases and dishes, they also appear to have made a number of different sculptures of stylised heads, and Charlie Brown (Peanuts) money banks.
Although researching Italian mid-century ceramics factories is troublesome and time-consuming, someone out there must know something. In the meantime, if you love mid-century modern Italian ceramics, why not buy a copy of Alla Moda, my book on the subject. It took over six years to research and you won’t find the information anywhere else! Find out more by clicking here.

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