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A PESARO DATED FOOTED DISH (ALZATA)
A PESARO DATED FOOTED DISH (ALZATA)

1539, THE REVERSE INSCRIBED 1539 CADAMMO MISE EL SERPE AL FÕNTE P. D. LIBERAR LI CON PAGI - S

Details
A PESARO DATED FOOTED DISH (ALZATA)
1539, THE REVERSE INSCRIBED 1539 Cadammo mise el serpe al fõnte p. d. liberar Li con pagi - S
Painted with five warriors slaying a dragon with human bones and body parts strewn on the ground below it, a recumbent cow nearby, in an elaborately stylised rocky landscape with trees, the city of Thebes beyond at the foot of a mountain, within a blue line and yellow band rim, the reverse with a double concentric yellow band border and two further bands at the foot (chipping to rim, crack from rim at 8 o'clock branching at centre, very minor wear and flaking to glaze on foot)
10¾ in (27.3 cm.) diam.
Provenance
Anonymous sale, Sotheby's, London, 9th October 1984, lot 7.
Literature
Giuliana Gardelli, op. cit., 1987, pp. 96-97, no. 37.
Exhibited
Urbino, Palazzo Ducale, July - September 1987

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Dominic Simpson
Dominic Simpson

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Lot Essay

The story depicted is the founding of Thebes by Cadmus, who had been advised by an oracle to follow a cow to the site of the new city. His companions were killed by a dragon (or giant snake) when they fetched water from a nearby spring for a libation, and after a battle Cadmus killed the dragon. Minerva instructed him to sow the dragon's teeth and warriors sprang up from the ground where they were sown. The warriors fought each other until only five were left and with Cadmus they founded the city of Thebes.

The present lot is extremely close to the coppa in the Mazza Collection in the musei Civici, Pesaro, painted with the Calydonian boar hunt which is attributed to Pesaro.1 The central figure with a raised sword is almost identical to the figure on the present lot, suggesting the two figures are derived from a currently unidentified print source.2


1. See Giovanni Conti, L'Arte della Maiolica in Italia, 1980, no. 275 (where he dates it to 1541), and also Maioliche del Museo Civico di Pesaro, Catalogo, Bologna, 1979, no. 28 (where a precise date is not mentioned).
2. Possibly derived from the woodcuts in the 1497 publication of Ovid's Metamorphoses. The second figure from the left could be derived from Perseus in the woodcut illustration on p. 78, and the figure with the raised shield could have been based on figures found on p. 209 and p. 266.

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