Giovanni De Simone Ceramics
Giovanni De Simone was a celebrated Italian ceramic designer.
History & Description
De Simone was born in 1930 and studied at the School of Ceramics in Faenza, Italy, where he was taught by Angel Biancini and Anselmo Bucci. Previously he had attended school at Liceo Tasso in Rome.
He worked from his studio in Palermo where he used oven firing to make the lead free colours permanent on his Majolica ceramics. His work is characterised by intense colours and his drawing style is often compared to Picasso’s. Many claim that he studied under Picasso, although there is no historical evidence to support this.
After his retirement in 1981, the factory was continued by his daughters, Rosita, Susanna and Margherita, until the factory closed its doors for good in September 2008.
Guide for collectors
All Giovanni De Simone pieces were individually hand painted and, as a result, no two pieces were ever the same. His pottery, which was painted in bright colours and featured decorative and stylised drawings of animals and figures, is extremely collectible and highly sought after.
Collectors should look out for De Simone’s signature, which is typically found somewhere on the painted side of the piece. In addition, there is usually a small factory sticker on the product’s base.
This is a brief biography that I wrote, based on various accounts I found on line, I sent it to his daughter Susanna, who edited it for accuracy.
You may never have stomped on grape to make wine, pulled fish from the Mediterranean, or picked oranges in a grove, but this is part of life in rural Italy. The artist Giovanni De Simone portrayed the warm Mediterranean sunshine and the pleasure of daily life in his beloved region of Sicily in his art. Just by looking at his ceramic pieces and his paintings we can experience the pleasure of the simple life of the Italian villages.
DeSimone was born in 1930 in Palermo, Italy on the Sicilian coast. He was the son of Italian aristocrats. As a young child he traveled to Somalia. The lion hunt, the forest with snakes and monkeys, the gurus and wizards enchanted him. He retained a lifelong ivory talisman given to him by a holy man, who had predicted a future full of successes and triumphs. Africa with its magic and mystery remain alive in his memory.
During the World War II his mother and father were imprisoned in a concentration camp. He was responsible for caring for his sister during this time. Eventually he and his sister joined their mother in the concentration camp. Following the war the family was repatriated and reunited in Rome. But soon the family moved into Romagna, a territory in central Italy and home of his mother. The choice of Romagna proved decisive for the life of the young Giovanni, he enrolled in famed Instituto d’Arte per la Ceramica founded by in Faenza. He was fascinated. He had found his home.
After completing his studies his family return to Sicily, where his father had many properties and businesses. With early childhood memories, Giovanni feel the deep roots that bound him to his native land. The harsh light that enhances the colors, greens, oranges, citrus fruit, the silver of the olive trees, the yellow, the blue of the sky and the sea. In the sea of blue Mondello, Desimone meet the girl who becomes the companion of his life, his wife Eliana. Together they had three daughters, Susanna Rosita and Margherita.
DeSimone then opened his own ceramics production studio. The studio produced both production ceramics; bowls, plates, mugs, pitchers and other utilitarian objects, as well as tiles, ceramic and painted murals. During the period that Giovanni’s studio was active there were usually anywhere from four to six active decorators and although the colors and themes were fairly uniform, each decorator had his own flair. Giovanni usually signed his work “DeSimone” on a painted area of the piece where it could be seen without turning the piece over. He was the only artist who signed his work while he maintained active control of the factory.
DeSimone died in 1991 and left his legacy in the creative hands of his daughters, Rosita, Susanna, and Margherita, who created works inspired by their father. After the death of their father Giovanni in 1991, Margherita and Susanna open new factories. From 2007 Susanna working in La Fabbrica Della Ceramica. It is there that Susanna designs and builds creations based on Desimone's work. Recently another factory has been reopened with many of the original decorators producing new DeSimone style pieces.
Purchasing DeSimone Pottery
Production work- designed by DeSimone, made in his factory under his supervision. Many utilitarian pieces.
Artist Produced work- During his lifetime Giovanni was the only artist who signed his work in a visible area.
Autogrill- Commercially produced china, both plates and pasta bowls, with decals applied to the center of each place, designed by DeSimone for each individual Autogrill location.
His daughter Susanna still produces pieces, her pieces are signed susannadesimone
Recently the decorators and artisans from his original factory have reopened the factory, ceramichedesimone
Notable auction sales
On April 23rd 2012, a large 24” decorated earthenware floor vase was sold on eBay for $623.99.
On June 23rd 2007 at Skinner in Massachusetts, Massachusetts;
- A 19” decorated earthenware vase, circa 1975, realised a price of $275.
- Three decorated earthenware candlesticks, circa 1970s, realised a price of $90.
On May 6th 2012, a large decorative earthenware bowl was sold on eBay for $153.
On May 15th 2010 at Wickliff & Associates Auctioneers in Carmel, Indiana, two pottery vases, circa 1970s, realised a price of $80.