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  • Place of origin:

    Ferrara (made)

  • Date:

    ca. 1480-1500 (made)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Red earthenware with incised decoration through a pale slip, lead glaze

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    Ceramics, Room 145, case 48

This footed bowl is probably the most elaborate and beautiful example of Italian incised slipware to survive. It was formed in several parts, which were stuck together using liquid clay to form the complex shape. All visible surfaces were covered with moulded and incised designs and then further embellished with coloured glazes. In the centre of the bowl a naked youth is shown fighting a dragon held on a leash by a young woman in late fifteenth-century dress – probably in witty allusion to a theme of courtly love. Footed bowls of this shape might have been used to serve sweetmeats or fruit during the dessert courses of special banquets.

The principle of incised slipware is simple. The potter covers a vessel made of dark red clay with a pale slip by dipping it in liquid clay. When this has dried, he scratches a design through the lighter upper layer, partly revealing the darker clay below. After firing, the vessel can be further decorated with coloured glazes.

Incised slipware was the most common type of pottery used in northern Italy throughout the Renaissance period. The most complex and finely decorated pieces were made in Ferrara under the patronage of the d’Este dukes and the circle around their court.

Physical description

Red earthenware bowl, with moulded parts, covered in white slip with incised decoration and lead-glazed with brushed oxide colours.

Place of Origin

Ferrara (made)


ca. 1480-1500 (made)

Materials and Techniques

Red earthenware with incised decoration through a pale slip, lead glaze


Height: 25.3 cm, Diameter: 33.5 cm

Descriptive line

Bowl on high foot, lead glazed red earthenware with a white slip decorated with scratched through decoration, made at Ferrara about 1480-1500

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

Hildyard, Robin. European Ceramics. London : V&A Publications, 1999. 144 p., ill. ISBN 185177260X
Liefkes, Reino and Hilary Young, eds. Masterpieces of World Ceramics.. London: V & A Publishing, 2008. pp.60-61, ill ISBN 9781 851 775279.


Earthenware; Lead glaze


Glazing (coating)

Subjects depicted

Dragons; Love; Leaves


Ceramics; Earthenware


Ceramics Collection

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