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Salt cellar

  • Place of origin:

    Urbino (made)

  • Date:

    1575-1580 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Fontana Workshop (maker)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Moulded, tin-glazed earthenware, painted in colours

  • Credit Line:

    Bequeathed by George Salting, Esq.

  • Museum number:

    C.2267-1910

  • Gallery location:

    Medieval & Renaissance, Room 62, The Foyle Foundation Gallery, case 12

Object Type
Salt was a precious commodity in the 16th century and salts cellars for use at the table were often elaborately decorated. As salt was derived from the sea, sea-gods were thought to be appropriate decorative elements.



Materials & Making
Tin-glazed earthenware, which could be painted in many different bright colours, was known in Italy as 'maiolica'. Urbino was a famous centre for the manufacture of maiolica. This salt cellar was made with the aid of moulds, which made it possible to shape series of objects relatively cheaply.

Physical description

Salt-cellar, boat-shaped and moulded in relief, with a goat's head above a lion's mask at either end. Tin-glazed earthenware, painted in colours with reclining figures of Neptune and Amphitrite, a Triton and a Nereid. In the well, above the initials AZ, a shield with cut scroll-work border, ensigned with a helmet and mantling, charged: Gules, three roses 2 and 1 argent on a chief or a crow sable.

Place of Origin

Urbino (made)

Date

1575-1580 (made)

Artist/maker

Fontana Workshop (maker)

Materials and Techniques

Moulded, tin-glazed earthenware, painted in colours

Marks and inscriptions

AZ
Painted, in the well. These are probably the initials of the original owner

Dimensions

Height: 15.5 cm, Length: 19 cm

Object history note

Formerly in the Spitzer Collection, sold in 1893, and then in the Salting Collection

Historical context note

Salt was a precious commodity in the 16th century and salts cellars for use at the table were often elaborately decorated. As salt was derived from the sea, sea-gods were thought to be appropriate decorative elements.
During this time, the potters of Urbino made extensive sets of matching table-wares for wealthy patrons, and it is likely that this salt was part of such an ensemble.

Descriptive line

Salt-cellar, boat-shaped and moulded in relief, painted in colours with reclining figures sea-gods. In the well, initials AZ and a coat of arms.

Subjects depicted

Goat

Categories

Ceramics; Majolica; Eating

Collection

Ceramics Collection

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