Two other dishes with this subject are: in Brunswick, in the Herzog Anton-Ulrich Museum (see J. Lessmann, Italienische Majolika, Brunswick, 1969, no. 313) inscribed 'Bataglia fatta tra ji Consoli/Romani, e, i, Tarquinij'; and in the Victoria and Albert Museum, London (see B. Rackham, Catalogue of Italian Maiolica in the Victoria and Albert Museum, London, 1940, no. 869)(without inscription).
The arrangement of the subject on the present dish differs significantly from the treatment on the other examples. The Herzog- Anton dish has rocks occupying the lower part of the dish and the subject is shifted to the right with an additional horse's head inserted. The scene takes place before an extensive landscape flanked by trees. There are no banners waving above the battle.
The subject is interpreted in a much freer and more chaotic manner on the Victoria and Albert dish, which is by the della Rovere painter. It is seen from a higher viewpoint and occupies the greater part of the dish, leaving little room for landscape. There are no trees, but there is a banner waving above the conflict.
According to Timothy Wilson (Ceramic Art of the Italian Renaissance, London, 1987, p. 60) there are six surviving pieces with the Orazio Fontana monogram as it appears on the present dish (although he reads the monogram as 'Oratio', whereas the full name 'Orazio Fontana' is contained within the cypher).
As Wilson quite rightly states, Fontana was one of the luminaries of the story of maiolica. At the time he executed this dish he was working in the bottega of his father, Guido Durantino. Later in 1565 he established a workshop on his own account, and in the period after 1575, he is credited with contributing to the invention of Medici porcelain.
All the maiolica signed with his monogram mark fall between the period 1541-1544. A further example in Berlin was lost in the Second World War. The present dish would appear to be an addition to the corpus of signed works by Fontana. The monogram signature and inscription give a clear picture of the artist's handwriting and a sure perception of his painting technique.
Interestingly the subject used on this dish also seems to have been current in Urbino within the same time frame, but used by different painters or botteghe.
Since the only known graphic image of this composition is the engraving ascribed by Bartsch to Orazio Farinati, which is somewhat later than the three pieces discussed here, Lessmann (op. cit., p. 267) has suggested that a drawing must have been available to the painter of the Herzog-Anton dish. This hypothesis is not supported by usual practice in the botteghe, and indeed, the repetition of the subject in these three versions would support the view that the same graphic source was currently available in Urbino at the the time.