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Plate

  • Place of origin:

    Deruta (made)

  • Date:

    1520-1525 (made)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Tin-glazed earthenware

  • Credit Line:

    Bequeathed by George Salting, Esq.

  • Museum number:

    C.2189-1910

  • Gallery location:

    Ceramics, Room 137, The Curtain Foundation Gallery, case 38, shelf 5

Ovid's Metamorphoses, recounting lively tales from Classical mythology, was much used by Renaissance artists. In 1497 a Venetian printer, Zoane Rosso, published a new edition of the text accompanied by allegorical interpretations and illustrative woodcuts that became essential sources for maiolica painters. The first Italian translation was printed in 1522, which greatly increased the popularity of Ovid and set the precedent for further translations into the vernacular. Ovid was extremely important to the humanistic tradition of the Renaissance, and was studied alongside Circero, Horace and Virgil.
Leda was important as a wife and mother. She was the wife of Tyndareus (a king of Sparta) and mother to many noble children.
According to the Greek myth, Leda was approached by the god Zeus, masquerading as a swan, and the subsequent union resulted in the birth of Helen, who later became the wife of Theseus, King of Athens, and renowned for her very great beauty.
The story of Leda conformed very neatly with the importance of dynastic fulfilment and the continuation of a noble lineage. Such a plate would have been admired not just for its beauty and erudition in recalling episodes from classical mythology but may also have appealed to the Renaissance inclination to the erotic. Indeed, numerous plates bearing such mythical or allegorical themes have lifted their subjects directly from such sources as Giulio Romano's I modi, the notorious erotic prints illustrative of various sexual positions.

Physical description

In the middle Leda and the Swan, in a medallion flanked by two other medallions on the rim containing trophies of arms; above and below, on the rim, a grotesque mask supporting fruit and flanked by sea-horses springing from leafy scrolled stems. On the back groups of concentric circles in lustre.

Place of Origin

Deruta (made)

Date

1520-1525 (made)

Materials and Techniques

Tin-glazed earthenware

Dimensions

Diameter: 25.5 cm

Object history note

Spitzer Sale Cat., Paris, 19 May 1893, Lot 1238; bought by Mr Salting for 5600 Frs.
George Salting bequest.

Historical significance: Leda was important as a wife and mother. She was the wife of Tyndareus (a king of Sparta) and mother to many noble children.
According to the Greek myth, Leda was approached by the god Zeus, masquerading as a swan, and the subsequent union resulted in the birth of Helen, who later became the wife of Theseus, King of Athens, and renowned for her very great beauty.
The story of Leda conformed very neatly with the importance of dynastic fulfilment and the continuation of a noble lineage. Such a plate would have been admired not just for its beauty and erudition in recalling episodes from classical mythology but may also have appealed to the Renaissance inclination to the erotic. Indeed, numerous plates bearing such mythical or allegorical themes have lifted their subjects directly from such sources as Giulio Romano's I modi, the notorious erotic prints illustrative of various sexual positions.

Historical context note

Ovid's Metamorphoses, recounting lively tales from Classical mythology, was much used by Renaissance artists. In 1497 a Venetian printer, Zoane Rosso, published a new edition of the text accompanied by allegorical interpretations and illustrative woodcuts that became essential sources for maiolica painters. The first Italian translation was printed in 1522, which greatly increased the popularity of Ovid and set the precedent for further translations into the vernacular. Ovid was extremely important to the humanistic tradition of the Renaissance, and was studied alongside Circero, Horace and Virgil.

Descriptive line

Plate depicting Leda and the Swan

Bibliographic References (Citation, Note/Abstract, NAL no)

Fiocco & Gherardi, Ceramiche Umbre, I, Faenza 1988
Rackham B., Italian Maiolica, London, Faber & Faber, 1952

Production Note

Painted by "Painter of the Diruta Plate", J Mallet, 09.01.2001
Compare Louvre piece with lady wearing helmet , Deruta, first half of 16th cent. (In Fiocco & Gherardi, 1988, p.107, fig, 96)

Subjects depicted

Swans

Categories

Ceramics

Collection

Ceramics Collection

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