Already widespread in the Roman period, for a number of centuries, ceramics and pottery have been Deruta's main source of income.
A public auction held in 1277 requested a supply of "ad modum mattorum Dirupta". From 1336, cooperative organisations produced everyday objects, painted only in brown and copper green on a background of off-white glaze, the "Maiolica Arcaica": vitrified ceramics with decorations in green/copper or manganese brown, fashioned on the wheel in a single throwing. The decorations were mainly geometric and floral motifs. From the 15th century onwards, the rigidity of shapes and styles gave way to a series of iconographic variations, with the acquisition of orange, yellow and blue: switching from functionality to decoration, as in the case of the so-called "pomp" plates. The new ornamentation is coded according to a formal scheme: a central medallion and a series of concentric bands parallel around it. From the second half of the 15th century two phenomena affected Deruta: the substantial immigration of potters following the plague of 1456, and closer relationship with the leaders of Umbrian painting. Deruta goods were therefore offered on rich and popular markets: in addition to the refined and sophisticated vitrification, the art of glazed earthenware also flourished. Indeed, the same kilns produced bricks, terracotta and painted vases: new players arrived in the original centres, giving life to an unprecedented artistic and commercial vitality. In the 16th century, the "Compendiario" style took shape: the outlines of the images are concise and simple, although with complex forms of flutings, plastic reliefs and sinuous edges. Finally, in the "calligraphic" style, the decorations, in monochrome blue or orange, are composed of a dense network of foliage with inserts of landscapes, hunting scenes and zoomorphic depictions.