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Vase and cover

Vase and cover

  • Place of origin:

    Urbino (made)

  • Date:

    ca. 1565-1570 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Fontana Workshop (maker)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Tin-glazed earthenware

  • Museum number:

    8969&A-1863

  • Gallery location:

    Ceramics, Room 137, The Curtain Foundation Gallery, case P1, shelf 1 []

During the sixteenth century the diet of the elite expanded. New ingredients were available from a widening global market and lavish recipes proliferated in the period. For the first time, gastronomic literature became part of the food culture of the wealthy. What was eaten and drunk mattered as it reflected and constructed an individual's social status. New ceramic forms for holding the growing variety of types of foodstuffs and for accommodating the stylish modes of eating were developed; such as crespine (moulded dishes for holding fruit), piatte detti da carne (meat plates) and rinfrescatoio (coolers). Knowledge of the specific functions of the new forms also formed part of the self-conscious preoccupation with discernment and decorum. During the century a number of codified philosophical ideas on manners, cleanliness and hospitality that reflected this concern were written. The production of clear glass (cristallino) tazze from Murano is a good example of the self-conscious interest in fine manners. The shape of the glass made drinking difficult, it demanded due attention to avoid spillage.
The introduction of individual vessels, cutlery, napkins, tablecloths and place settings at table also signaled a development in the elite modes of eating and drinking. It marked a change with the earlier medieval practice of sharing implements. For the first time dining "services" were produced with individual flatware or plates for those at table. Sets were produced in standard quantities, plates were sold in by six or twelve. As luxury items, however maiolica services were however also specially commissioned and often decorated with the appropriate heraldic devices and imprese linking the individual service with the patron. However, it is likely that these items were reserved for occasional use or display purposes only.
From the end of the fifteenth century maiolicaware was often painted with antique narratives known as "istoriato". The depiction of these ancient myths and histories, painted in perspective, echoed the intellectual interests of the period. Indeed, the idea behind such decoration on vessels for eating and drinking may have been that guests would have been able to recognize the stories and characters, which reflected on and flattered their classical learning and erudition.

Physical description

Vase, with cover and 2 horn-like handles springing from satyrs' masks moulded in relief and applied. Two figure-subjects occupy a landscape painted over the whole of the body and foot. On one side, a classical subject, perhaps Mucius Scaevola before Porsenna, surrounded by five soldiers in front of a group of tents; on the other a queen in a chair on a dais to whom seven women grouped on either side of her are bringing tribute (a bale, bowls of fruit, and an urn): on the steps of the dais the words: FATTO IN VRBINO.

Place of Origin

Urbino (made)

Date

ca. 1565-1570 (made)

Artist/maker

Fontana Workshop (maker)

Materials and Techniques

Tin-glazed earthenware

Marks and inscriptions

'FATTO IN VRBINO'
Made in Urbino
on the steps of dais

Dimensions

Height: 54.5 cm, Width: 33.5 cm

Object history note

Soulages Collection
Robinson, Soulages Collection, p. 55, Fortnum, Cat., p.383 (there attributed tentatively to Camillo Fontana, brother of Orazio); Guide, p.65. A Companion vase, inscribed FATTO IN VRBINO, with the subject finding of Moses, repr. Molinier, Collection Spitzer, pl.XIV

Historical significance: From the end of the fifteenth century maiolica was often painted with antique narratives known as "istoriato". The depiction of these ancient myths and histories, painted in perspective, echoed the intellectual interests of the period. Indeed, the idea behind such decoration on vessels for eating and drinking may have been that guests would have been able to recognize the stories and characters, which reflected on and flattered their classical learning and erudition.

Historical context note

During the sixteenth century the diet of the elite expanded. New ingredients were available from a widening global market and lavish recipes proliferated in the period. For the first time, gastronomic literature became part of the food culture of the wealthy. A number of codified philosophical ideas on manners, cleanliness and hospitality were written revealing a broader preoccupation with behaviour and social status. The introduction of individual vessels, cutlery, napkins, tablecloths and place settings at table also signaled a development in the elite modes of eating and drinking. It marked a change with the earlier medieval practice of sharing eating implements. For the first time dining "services" were produced with individual flatware or plates for those at table. Sets were produced in standard quantities, plates were sold by six or twelve. Clear glass known as cristallino which was often enameled and gilded, produced in Murano, became desirable for drinking vessels. There is evidence to suggest that fine maiolica services may have been displayed on the credenza in the same manner as silver.

Descriptive line

Vase depicting a seated queen on one side and Mucius Scaevola before Porsenna on the other side, Orazio Fontana Workshop, marked as made in Urbino, ca. 1565-1570

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

Ajmar-Wollheim, Marta & Flora Dennis (Eds.) Renaissance at Home . London: V&A Museum, 2006.
Hess, Catherine (Ed.) The Arts of Fire: Islamic Influences on Glass and Ceramics of the Italian Renaissance. Los Angeles, The J. Paul Getty Museum, 2004.
Rackham, Bernard. Catalogue of Italian Maiolica. Vol. I & vol. II. London: V&A Museum, 1977, 2nd edition.
Syson, Luke and Dora Thornton. Objects of Virtue: Art in Renaissance Italy. London: British Museum, 2001.
Wilson, Timothy. Ceramic Art of the Italian Renaissance. London: British Museum, 1987.

Labels and date

Vase
Marked as made in Urbino, 1565-70 ca
Probably made in the workshop of Orazio Fontana []

Materials

Earthenware; Tin-glaze

Techniques

Painting

Subjects depicted

Queen; Satyrs; Landscape

Categories

Vases; Earthenware; Ceramics

Collection

Ceramics Collection

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