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Dish

Manufacturer:
Deruta maiolica workshops
Date:
c 1510-1525
Place of production:
Deruta, Italy
Medium:
tin-glazed earthenware, metallic lustre
Type of object:
dishes
Accession number:
2845
Cat No:
4

Commentary

Idealised women adorn many of the large dishes produced in Deruta, Italy, during the 16th century. Echoed by the unusual surrounding stars, the rich golds of this lady's dress was rendered by a special technique known as lustre glazing. Holes in the foot ring indicate that it may have been designed to be hung on a wall.

This dish is of a type of large display piece decorated with half-length women, known as "belle donne" (beautiful women), produced in Deruta. They may have served as love tokens, but the women are not actual portraits of the beloved. Nearly identical heads are to be found on many other Deruta dishes, both lustred and polychrome. They were repeated again and again, traced with the aid of pricked drawings through which outlines in chalk or charcoal could be dusted, then burnt away in the firing process leaving no trace. Often the faces bear great resemblances to frescoes by celebrated painters such as Pietro Perugino (c.1446/50-1523) or Bernardo di Betto, known as Pinturicchio (1454-1513).

The outlines of the head and shoulders of the woman on this dish would have been traced with the aid of a pricked drawing, used as a guide for the blue outlines within which the lustre pigments would have been laid on before the final firing. The stars behind the woman are a somewhat unusual feature on this type of ware. They may have had an unspecified astrological significance, perhaps conferring good fortune. They, along with her necklace and pendant, were freehand improvisations by the painter.

Diana Stone, 2013

Physical description

Dimensions (mm):
420 diam.
Labels:
E1/15/4
Label
[on reverse, in foot ring, label in ink]

[?]
window
right
Label
[on reverse, in foot ring, brown paper label in pencil]

SHAPE [X?] I
Label
[on reverse, pencil on masking tape]

History

Provenance:
Acquired by Alice de Rothschild (b.1847, d.1922); inherited by her great-nephew James de Rothschild (b.1878, d.1957); accepted by The Treasury Solicitor in lieu of taxes in 1990; given to Waddesdon The Rothschild Collection (The National Trust) in 1990.
Collection:
Waddesdon (National Trust)
Accepted by HM Government in lieu of inheritance tax and allocated to the National Trust for display at Waddesdon Manor, 1990

Indexed terms