Giuseppe Gricci – Capodimonte Porcelain Modeller

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Capodimonte Gricci Figurines
Giusseppe Gricci

(c1700 – 1770) – Chief modeller at the original Capodimonte Royal Factory between 1743 and 1759.
Gricci, a Florence-trained sculptor, was the chief modeler for the Capodimonte Royal Factory until its closure in 1759. When King Charles VII of Naples became King Charles of Spain and moved Capodimonte production to Buen Retiro, (near Madrid), Gricci moved with it and became the chief modeller of the Spanish factory until his death in 1770.
Surviving factory records indicate that he was responsible for almost all of the early soft-paste Capodimonte porcelain figurines produced during the factory’s operation in Naples.

Records also indicate that the master painter Giuseppe Della Torre, and carver Ambrogio Di Giorgio formed Gricci’s original team. By 1755 factory production was at a point where the chief modeller had perhaps as many as six other modellers working under him.
Although many of the other early Capodimonte pieces were unmarked – Gricci did use the incised/impressed fleur-de-lys in a circle mark on most of his figurines – and his distinctive style is easily recognized:

  • Because he was using a soft-paste porcelain formula – his figurines were noted for their creamy white appearance
  • He worked in miniatures, usually under 6 inches tall (but there are some larger)
  • Figurine bases were “rocky” or angular, not smooth or rounded as in later, (1771+), Capodimonte figurines
  • Figurine heads were typically disproportionally small – relative to body size
  • His figures were modeled after subjects from the Naples area; street traders, peasants, and harlequin characters from the commedia dell’arte

He is also credited with designing a popular snuff-box molded in relief with shells and marine life, and the creation of spectacular porcelain cabinets made with interlocking plates of porcelain decorated with chinoiseries. (Chinese artistic influences – fanciful, ornate and idyllic imagery)
One, the Salottino di Porcellana, while in Naples, and another, the Gabinete de la Porcelana, while in Buen Retiro, Spain.

Capodimonte Porcelain Room at the Palace of Portici

Gricci also made the porcelains used to create the “Porcelain Drawing Room”[3] at the Royal Palace at Portici. (at right)
The room decorations were a combination of the same type of tiles he used to create the porcelain cabinets mentioned above – with the same chinoiseries, and decorative floral, vines, and sconce pieces. It also includes Capodimonte-made chandeliers – of course.
*This room was later moved to the National Galleries at Capodimonte in 1866.
**He created a similar rooms for the King’s two palaces in Spain.


Capodimonte Mourning Virgin by Giusseppe Gricci


Source citations:
1. Giuseppe Gricci/
2. Metropolitan Museum of Art (New York, N.Y.)
3. UMUC Italian Studies

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