This Gubbio crespina has formed part of some of the most important and illustrious collections of Italian maiolica. It is recorded as item MM72 in the Pierpont Morgan collection of maiolica and is illustrated in the Morgan Library Album as item A42. This is referenced by Professor Timothy Wilson whose on-going research and compilation of the Pierpont Morgan maiolica collection is published online, see J.P. Morgan's Italian maiolica - notes towards a cumulated list, May 2012.1 Although the Morgan Library Album remained unpublished at the time of its creation for the Metropolitan Museum of New York, its contents is reproduced and its historical significance is discussed in detail by Lucio Riccetti in '1913. il mancato catalogo della collezione di maiolica italiana di J. Pierpont Morgan', Faenza, 99, 2013, no. 1, pp. 120-142.
The crespina was loaned by J.P. Morgan to the Victoria and Albert Museum in London and was then subsequently loaned to the Metropolitan Museum, New York by J.P Morgan's son Jack, before being sold to the dealer Duveen in 1916 along with a group of 121 other items of Italian maiolica from the same collection. This crespina was valued prior to the sale to Duveen at $3000, which makes it amongst the more expensive items of maiolica in the collection. In addition to the J.P. Morgan collection, this crespina was formerly in the mid-19th century collection of Ralph Bernal and the 20th century collections of Henry Goldman and Robert Strauss.
It has been suggested that moulded dishes of this type were made in imitation of metalware and Julia Poole discusses the wide disparity in the quality and crispness of the moulded reliefs, suggesting that moulds may have been used over a long period from 1530, possibly until the early 1550s.2 A dish with a similarly moulded border is illustrated by Carola Fiocco and Gabriella Gheradi in Mastro Giorgio da Gubbio: una carrier sfolgorante, Exhibition Catalogue, 19 September – 7 November 1998, p. 72, cat. no. 36. The IHS or YHS Sacred Trigram became widely used in the 15th century, often surrounded by rays symbolic of the Franciscan St Bernadino of Siena (1380-1444). Timothy Wilson and Dora Thornton record other crespine including a similar example, dated 1530, also decorated with the Sacred Trigram and 'San Bernardino rays' in the collection of the British Museum (museum no. 1878,1230.394).3
1. See the online resource: http://www.ashmolean.org/documents/Staff/WilsonTim/MorganMaiolicaList.pdf
2. Julia E. Poole, Italian maiolica and incised slipware in the Fitzwilliam Museum Cambridge, Cambridge, 1995, pp. 226-227, cat. no. 300.
3. See Italian Renaissance Ceramics: A Catalogue of the British Museum Collection, Vol. II, London, 2009, pp. 531-532, cat. no. 330.