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Francesco Xanto Avelli - Italian Artist From Art History

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Historical Artist - Francesco Xanto Avelli (1487 - 1542)

Born in Rovigo, Francesco Xanto Avelli’s was a talented ceramic painter and author. In addition to his many mailoca paintings, he wrote sonnets honoring the Duke of Urbino. His scenes also often illustrated events from classical and contemporary literature and also current events like the 1527 Sack of Rome. When Avelli moved to Urbino in 1530, he began signing “in Urbino” on his pieces. It was his detailed inscriptions and signatures that allowed so much information to be known about his life.

After 1535, Xanto seems to have become less prolific; his works, if signed, are marked in more cursory fashion. He also had a number of associates and followers working with him regularly, basing their style on his. The last documentary record of him comes in 1541, when he is known to have taken on two assistants; that year he also initialed a piece from the workshop of Francesco de Silvano. What later became of him is unknown.

Xanto's signed works all date from between 1530 and 1542. Each bears his name and the date of the piece; many also were given ambitious tags explaining their meanings. The surviving pieces appear to be similar in nature, with the exception of the signatures, to most other maiolica ware produced in Urbino at the time. Xanto signed his works with a number of different variants of his own name; besides those with his full name, pieces signed fra Xanto in his hand are known to exist.

Besides being a ceramicist, Xanto was also a poet; in the 1530s he wrote a sequence of sonnets in praise of Francesco Maria della Rovere, then duke of Urbino. An elegant fair copy survives in the Vatican Library.

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