Dish

ca. 1515 (made)
Dish thumbnail 1
Dish thumbnail 2
+3
images
Image of Gallery in South Kensington
On display at V&A South Kensington
Medieval & Renaissance, Room 64, The Wolfson Gallery
Artist/Maker
Place Of Origin

Decoration of this sort, known as grotteschi, became fashionable in Renaissance Italy following the discovery in Rome, in about 1480, of the so-called Golden Palace of the Emperor Nero. The excavated chambers contained perfectly preserved wall and ceiling paintings, comprising fantastical creatures, ribbons and festoons. These ornaments provided artists of all kinds with a rich source of inspiration. The almost infinite possibilities of design gave them the means to fulfil the desires of the Renaissance market for beauty, abundance, caprice and wit.

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.

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 in Renaissance society. 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 lifted their subjects directly from such sources as Giulio Romano's I modi, the notorious erotic prints illustrative of various sexual positions.

The figure of Fortune is adapted from an engraving by Nicoletto da Modena; it differs from its source in the position of the left arm and the elimination of all accessories. The whole composition of the design is strongly reminiscent of the panels of grotesques by the same engraver.

The fan-like flowers on the back are a peculiarity of Cafaggiolo.


object details
Category
Object Type
Materials and Techniques
Tin-glazed earthenware
Brief Description
Dish with grotesques and central medallion depicting Leda and the Swan, probably painted by Jacopo, Cafaggiolo, ca. 1515.
Physical Description
Dish. Painted with a grotesque composition covering the whole surface. In the middle, in a medallion flanked by ram's heads, Leda and the Swan, with the name LEDA on a tablet. Above the medallion, between two crouching boys holding cornucopias, springs a flower supporting a figure of Fortune. The back is painted in blue with stylized flowers ('mezzaluna dentata') motifs on scrolled stems on the rim and the monograph SP in the middle.

Colours are blue, orange, yellow, green and red.
Dimensions
  • Diameter: 39.5cm
  • Height: 5.2cm
  • Weight: 1.74kg
Marks and Inscriptions
'SP' (monogram on the reverse Sticky label: HUNEGG)
Credit line
Bequeathed by George Salting, Esq.
Object history
Formerly part of the Parpart and Spitzer Collections



Historical significance: 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 in Renaissance society. 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 lifted their subjects directly from such sources as Giulio Romano's I modi, the notorious erotic prints illustrative of various sexual positions.



The figure of Fortune is adapted from an engraving by Nicoletto da Modena; it differs from its source in the position of the left arm and the elimination of all accessories. The whole composition of the design is strongly reminiscent of the panels of grotesques by the same engraver.



The fan-like motifs on the back, called 'mezzaluna dentata' are typical features of Caffaggiolo production.
Historical context
Decoration of this sort, known as grottesche, became fashionable in Renaissance Italy following the discovery in Rome, in about 1480, of the so-called Golden Palace of the Emperor Nero. The excavated chambers contained perfectly preserved wall and ceiling paintings, comprising fantastical creatures, ribbons and festoons. These ornaments provided artists of all kinds with a rich source of inspiration. The almost infinite possibilities of design gave them the means to fulfil the desires of the Renaissance market for beauty, abundance, caprice and wit.



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.
Subjects depicted
Summary
Decoration of this sort, known as grotteschi, became fashionable in Renaissance Italy following the discovery in Rome, in about 1480, of the so-called Golden Palace of the Emperor Nero. The excavated chambers contained perfectly preserved wall and ceiling paintings, comprising fantastical creatures, ribbons and festoons. These ornaments provided artists of all kinds with a rich source of inspiration. The almost infinite possibilities of design gave them the means to fulfil the desires of the Renaissance market for beauty, abundance, caprice and wit.



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.



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 in Renaissance society. 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 lifted their subjects directly from such sources as Giulio Romano's I modi, the notorious erotic prints illustrative of various sexual positions.



The figure of Fortune is adapted from an engraving by Nicoletto da Modena; it differs from its source in the position of the left arm and the elimination of all accessories. The whole composition of the design is strongly reminiscent of the panels of grotesques by the same engraver.



The fan-like flowers on the back are a peculiarity of Cafaggiolo.
Bibliographic References
  • Rackham, B. Italian Maiolica. London: Faber & Faber
  • Watson, Wendy M, Italian Renaissance Ceramics From the Howard I. and Janet H. Stein Collection and the Philadelphia Museum of Art, exh.cat. Philadelphia, The Philadelphia Museum of Art, 2001
  • Syson, Luke & Dora Thornton, Objects of Virtue: Art in Renaissance Italy, London: The British Museum Press, 2001
Other Number
310 - Rackham (1977)
Collection
Accession Number
C.2153-1910

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record createdNovember 3, 2006
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