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CIRCA 1540-44
Painted with Cadmus and six companions slaying a winged dragon by a small cave in a rocky outcrop on the left, the centre with Cadmus and his men armed with swords and one with a club, before a column of rock, a tree to the right, the city of Thebes in the distance, the sky with a central shield with the impaled Medici Pucci arms below a tasselled Cardinal's galero suspended on a cord from the blue line and ochre band rim, the reverse with turquoise patches and a double-concentric ochre band border, the low foot enclosing an inscription Come Cadamo ociSe el Serpente in blue (obverse with slight over-painting disguising section of border between 9 and 11 o'clock broken in two small pieces and re-stuck, with associated crack and restored rim chip, breaks visible on reverse)
10¼ in. (26 cm.) diam.
Cardinal Antonio Pucci (1485-1544)
Baron Gustave de Rothschild (1829-1911) Collection; by descent to his grandson, Baron Henri de Lambert (1887-1933) and his wife, Baroness Johanna von Reininghaus de Lambert (1899-1960) Collection, Brussels and New York
Baroness Lambert; sale Parke-Bernet, New York, 7th March 1941, lot 84. Thérèse Lownes Noble Collection; sale by order of her Executors, Sotheby Parke Bernet, New York, 1st-3rd November 1973, lot 178
With Lukacs-Donath, Rome.
Listed by Dora Thornton and Timothy Wilson, Italian Renaissance Ceramics, a catalogue of the British Museum collection, London, 2009, Vol. I, p. 304 and p. 305, note 10.
Ettore A. Sannipoli et al., La Via Della Ceramica Tra Umbria e Marche, Maioliche Rinascimentali da Collezioni Private, Gubbio, Exhibition Catalogue, Città di Castello, 2010, pp. 250-251, no. 3·24.
Gubbio, Palazzo Ducale, La Via della Ceramica tra Umbria e Marche, June 2010 - January 2011, no. 3·24.

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Lot Essay

The arms are for Antonio Pucci, who was made a Cardinal by the Medici Pope Clement VII in 1531. This dish is part of an armorial service of which ten other pieces are known, and they must presumably pre-date the Cardinal's death in 1544. For a list of the ten other known pieces, and a discussion of the piece in the British Museum, see Dora Thornton and Timothy Wilson, Italian Renaissance Ceramics, A Catalogue of the British Museum Collection, London, 2009, Vol. I, pp. 304-305, no. 179.

The inscription Come Cadamo ocise el serpente translates as 'How Cadmus killed the serpent', and it refers to the story of the founding of Thebes by Cadmus. An oracle advised Cadmus to follow a cow to the site of the new city, but his companions were killed by a dragon (or giant snake) when they fetched water from a nearby spring for a libation. After battling with the dragon Cadmus killed it, and Minerva instructed him to sow its teeth in the ground. Warriors sprang up from these sown teeth and fought each other until only five were left. It was with these five warriors that Cadmus founded the city of Thebes.

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