loading

Plate

Attributed to:
Master of the Triumph of the Moon at Marcigny (active 1520s)
after Michelangelo (b.1475, d.1564)
Date:
c 1525-c 1530
Place of production:
Forli?, Italy
Faenza, Italy
Medium:
tin-glazed earthenware
Type of object:
plates (dishes)
maiolica
Accession number:
3084
Cat No:
33

Commentary

Based on Michelangelo's Sistine ceiling, this dish has been attributed to the Master of the Triumph of the Moon at Marcigny, an unidentified artist working in either Forli or Faenza around 1524. He adapted Michelangelo's biblical subject to represent an episode from Classical myth: the childhood of Aeneas, the future founder of Rome.

The painter of this dish has been linked with a basin in the British Museum, attributed to a painter known as the Master of the Triumph of the Moon at Marcigny, based on facial features, colour palette, style of ornament and, most particularly, on the letter 'A' which appears on a tablet on this dish and in the inscription on the British Museum piece (Thornton & Wilson, 2009, p. 125). Grotesque ornament of the blue-ground type around the rim of this dish was popular at Faenza in the early years of the 16th century. Later, such motifs appeared painted on a white ground rather than blue.

The subject is indicated by the inscription on a stone in the left foreground which most likely stands for Aeneas and Anchises. The 'F' could stand for 'filius', Latin for son, referring to their relationship. Interpreting the woman as Venus, the mother of Aeneas, would thus suggest that the scene as a whole depicts the childhood of Rome's mythical founder, shown with his parents outside the fortified city of Troy.

When the plate was exhibited at the South Kensington Museum in 1862 it was described as ‘…a holy family, or repose in Egypt, in the style of Michel Angelo, perhaps a "pasticcio" in imitation from some composition of this master’. It had not yet been noticed that the scene does in fact derive from a spandrel of Michelangelo's ceiling frescoes in the Sistine Chapel representing Zorobabel, one of the ancestors of Saint Joseph as listed in the Gospel of Saint Matthew.

It is likely that the scene was copied from a drawing made from the actual ceiling painting, rather than from a print (Mallet, 1994, pp. 51-2). The composition, dress of the figures, and the setting, have been changed significantly to tell a different story from Michelangelo's ceiling. By placing Michelangelo's figures in a landscape with a moated castle or townscape in the background more akin to the work of Giorgione, the painter of this strange dish has created a 'poesia' whose subject could scarcely have been guessed without the aid of the inscription. No doubt intended for a learned patron of Renaissance Italy, this was one of many maiolica pieces Alice de Rothschild collected in the early years of the 20th century to display in the Smoking Room at Waddesdon Manor.

Diana Stone, 2012

Physical description

Dimensions (mm):
408 dia
Inscriptions:
• ANEA >
A• N ν
Inscription
[lower left, on a round stone]

F ν
Inscription
[lower right, on a square plaque]
Labels:
COLLECTION SPITZER 1893
Printed label
[reverse, lower centre, oval printed label]

History

Provenance:
Owned by Samuel Addington (b.c 1807, d.1886) when exhibited in June 1862; acquired by Frédéric Spitzer (b.1815, d.1890); sold in the Spitzer sale, Paris, 15 May 1893, lot 1041 where acquired by George Donaldson (b.1845, d.1925); acquired by the dealer Charles Davis (b.1849, d.1914); purchased by Alice de Rothschild (b.1847, d.1922) from Davis in 1905; inherited by her great-nephew James de Rothschild (b.1878, d.1957); inherited by his wife Dorothy de Rothschild ( b.1895, d.1988); accepted by The Treasury Solicitor in lieu of taxes on the Estate of Mr James de Rothschild in 1963; given to Waddesdon The Rothschild Collection (The National Trust) in 1963.
Exhibition history:
South Kensington Museum, London, June 1862
Collection:
Waddesdon (National Trust)
Accepted by HM Government in lieu of inheritance tax and allocated to the National Trust for display at Waddesdon Manor, 1963

Bibliography

Bibliography

Émile Molinier; La Collection Spitzer: antiquité - moyen âge - renaissance; 6 vols; Paris; Maison Quantin; 1890-1892; vol. IV, no. 9, ill.
Paul Chevallier, Charles Mannheim; Catalogue des objets d'art et de haute curiosité antiques du moyen-âge & de la renaissance, composant l'importante et précieuse Collection Spitzer; Paris; Ménard & Cie; 1893; vol. I, p. 174, lot 1041.
John Mallet, Michaelangelo on Maiolica: an "istoriato" dish at Waddesdon, Apollo, April 1994, pp 50-55; pp. 50-55.
Dora Thornton, A bella donna from the Pasolini collection in the British Museum, Faenza - Bollettino del Museo Internazionale delle Ceramiche in Faenza, 89, 2003, 135-50; pp. 144-5, pl. IIIa.
Dora Thornton, Timothy H. Wilson; Italian Renaissance Ceramics; 2 vols; London; The British Museum Press; 2009; vol. 1, pp. 125, 137, 140.
Paola Cordera; La fabbrica del Rinascimento. Frédéric Spitzer mercante d'arte e collezionista nell'Europa e delle nuove Nazioni; Bologna; Bononia University Press; 2014; p. 222, 1893/1041; as bought by George Donaldson.

Indexed terms