Gzhel pottery began in the 14th century with wares made by potters in their homes in a group of villages located southeast of Moscow. These potters soon started to organize into workshops which eventually became a factory.
The earliest pieces were earthenware, painted solid white with distinctive blue designs. Majolica pottery, with coloured glaze designs over a white, tin-based glaze, was also produced. By the 18th century, Gzhel was famous as a large ceramics center that produced artistic and decorative objects, as well as utilitarian earthenware.
In the early 1800s, the Gzhel potters developed a white earthenware, which was of a quality that rivaled the creamware being produced in England at the time, and a white porcelain. By the 1830s, most Russian porcelain was produced in Gzhel.
Gzhel wares became increasingly popular, not only in Russia, but also abroad. By the middle of the 19th century Gzhel was the principal pottery supplier to the whole country.
The Revolution in 1917 and the World Wars caused several periods of disruption of production and demand for Gzhel pottery.
Renewed interest from the early 1970s, prompted young artists to explore new design methods. Contemporary designs, with richer, more complex painting began to be produced, as well as the traditional blue on white styles and colorful Maiolica ware.