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  • Place of origin:

    Florence (region, made)

  • Date:

    ca. 1450 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:


  • Materials and Techniques:

    Tin-glazed earthenware painted in copper, manganese and either antimony or iron

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    Ceramics, Room 145, case 4, shelf 2

Large basins have been depicted in Italian paintings and manuscripts in scenes of dining and cleansing. Washing hands prior to dining and during the meal itself was a standard custom in 15th century Italy. This dish, or basin, may have been used for washing and then kept on display on a sideboard to show off its fine decoration.

The basin is covered with a tin-opacified glaze which gives a bright white covering on which the design is painted. This type of decorative glazing is known as 'maiolica' in Italy. The image on the basin is a hare standing in front of what apears to be an artichoke. Artichokes may have been cultivated in Italy as early as the 9th century.

This basin was made in the latter part of the 15th century in the Florentine region. Another dish in the Victoria & Albert Museum's collection (Museum no. 2593-1856) is a similar shape and size and has the same decoration on the wide rim as our basin here. It is believed that both dishes were made in the same pottery in Montelupo, just outside Florence.

Physical description

Large deep dish with a broad rim. The earthenware body is covered with a tin glaze. The centre of the dish is painted with an artichoke thistle and leaves which stands vertically and occupies the length of the centre. The background is composed of dots and small flowers. Placed in front of the thistle is the figure of a hare or a rabbit. The rim and the inner rim of the dish is painted with a scroll of stylised leaves. The whole is painted in green, brown and yellow.

On the back, a winged cupid holding a branch is painted in manganese on to the unglazed body.

Place of Origin

Florence (region, made)


ca. 1450 (made)



Materials and Techniques

Tin-glazed earthenware painted in copper, manganese and either antimony or iron


Diameter: 47.5 cm

Descriptive line

Dish of tin-glazed earthenware (maiolica) with an image of a rabbit or hare in front of an artichoke thistle. Italian (Florentine region), about 1450

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

Marc L. Solon, A History and Description of Italian Maiolica, London, 1907
Galeazzo Cora, La storia della maiolica di Firenze e del contado secoli XIV e XV, Florence, 2 vols., 1973
Bernard Rackham, Catalogue of Italian Maiolica, Victoria & Albert Museum, London, 1940
C. Drury E. Fortnum, A Descriptive Catalogue of the Maiolica, Hispano-Moresco, Persian, Damascus and Rhodian Wares in the South Kensington Museum, London, 1873
Fausto Berti, Storia della ceramica di Montelupo. Uomini e fornaci in un centro di produzione dal XIV al XVIII secolo, 4 vols., Florence, ca.1997

Labels and date

Dish, enamelled earthenware, Maiolica; in the centre a rabbit; painted in manganese and green; reverse, outline of a winged cupid holding a branch.
Italian, 17th century. [1858]
Dish. Glazed earthenware. In the centre a rabbit, painted in manganese; reverse, outline of winged cupid holding a branch.
Italian, 15th century [post 1858 and pre 1952]
Dish, earthenware
Italian (Florentine), about 1450 [1952]
22. Basin with a hare among foliage
Italy (Florentine area), about 1450
Earthenware painted with colours into the opaque tin-glaze
This large basin was probably used for washing hands before a meal.
Museum no. 4901-1858. Bought. [2007]

Production Note

Probably made in Montelupo, just outside Florence.




Glazing; Painting

Subjects depicted

Hare; Rabbit; Thistle




Ceramics Collection

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