The subject of this charger is after 'Battle with a Cutlass' engraved in this sense by Marco Dente da Ravenna, and in the other, by Agostino Veneziano (see W. L. Strauss, The Illustrated Bartsch, New York, 1979, vol. 26, nos. 211 and 212).
Francesco Durantino was, according to Timothy Wilson (Ceramic Art of the Italian Renaissance, London, 1987, p. 61) '..one of the most prolific of all Urbino istoriato painters.' The present piece, with its adroit use of white enamel to add quality to the decoration, is an outstanding example of his technical and artistic mastery. Comparable use of white heightening is to be seen on the two dishes from the workshop of Guido da Merlino in Brunswick, Herzog-Anton Ulrich Museum, nos. 150-152. The first two of these dishes are of the same splendid proportions as the present dish.
'Guido da Merlino' (Johanna Lessmann and other authorities) or 'di Merlino' (Wilson) but who actually signed himself 'Merlingo' or 'Merligno' is recorded at S. Polo in Urbino between 1542 and 1551. There is no evidence to suggest that he was ever a painter on maiolica. A contract is however extant between him and Francesco Durantino dating from 1543 and there are dishes, notably in Schwerin, dated 1544 and Vienna, 1543 which clearly link the painter and the owner of the bottega. The dish in Vienna referred to by Wilson (op. cit.) is certainly the present lot, though it is impossible to tell from the inscription as transcribed in the literature.