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(b Castel Durante, 1523–4; d Castel Durante, 1579).

Italian writer and maiolica painter. He came from a patrician family of Bolognese descent and was a humanist by education and an amateur devotee of the arts. He was also active as a dilettante poet, land surveyor, civil and military engineer and draughtsman. Between 1556 and 1559 he wrote Li tre libri dell’arte del vasaio—the earliest European treatise on maiolica production—at the request of Cardinal François de Tournon (1489–1562), who may have intended the treatise to help improve the quality of faience being manufactured in his native France. In this three-part treatise, Piccolpasso explained and illustrated in lively detail the basic procedures required for maiolica production; these procedures have remained largely unchanged during the ensuing centuries. He described the composition of glazes, pigments and lustres, the location and preparation of the raw materials, the methods for constructing the tools—including the wheel and kiln—and for forming, trimming, drying, painting and firing the wares. He also included a selection of designs for plate decoration that were popular during the first half of the 16th century. His other major literary work was a topographical description of Umbria entitled ...