William Pitts was one of the first makers to produce silver objects in the historicist style for the Royal goldsmiths Rundell, Bridge and Rundell. The Royal Collection includes two sideboard dishes of this model, dated 1810 and 1812, and a tankard in the 17th century taste of 1811, all marked by Pitts.
The second of Pitts's two dishes made for the Prince Regent is described in Rundell's account of 1812 as follows:
A richly chased sideboard dish, to match his Royal Highnesses, and with devices of the Feast of the Gods, from a design of Michael Angelo, with chased mosaic border, 284 oz. 15 dwt., fashion 12s.oz.=£291/17/4.; engraving crest and coronet, 9s; gilding all over dead and red, £96.
(as quoted in E. A. Jones, The Gold and Silver of Windsor Castle, 1911, p.114)
In spite of Rundell's attribution to Michelangelo, the central relief is based on a bronze plaque now attributed to Guglielmo della Porta (recent attribution by Anthony Radcliffe; see Carlton House: The Past Glories of George IV's Palace, 1991, p.119). The direct design source for Rundell's, however, was almost certainly an engraving of the bronze plaque in Bernard de Montfaucon's L'Antiquitée expliquée, a highly influential publication of 1719. Montfaucon was a Benedictine scholar whose travels in Italy led to his ambitious compilation of all images of antiquities known at the time. The fact that the present relief was a renaissance and not an ancient Roman work was unknown to Montfaucon. We can be almost certain that Rundell's owned a copy of this volume, as another engraving from Montfaucon provided the subject for a relief plaque on another dish in the Love Collection, designed by Thomas Stothard for Rundell's in 1813 (lot 236).
1) The Feast of the Gods, bronze plaque, attributed to Guglielmo della Porta, circa 1575. Courtesy the Board of Trustees of the Victoria and Albert Museum
2) Plate from Bernard de Montfaucon's L'Antiquitée expliquée, 1719 (London edition, 1721)