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The Contest between the Muses and the Pierides: EC.35-1942

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Object information

Titles

The Contest between the Muses and the Pierides

Maker(s)

Durantino, Guido (Workshop)
Attributed Gatti, Camillo (Painter)
After Rosso Fiorentino (Giovanni Battista di Jacopo) (Painter)
After Caraglio, Giovanni Giacomo (Printmaker)

Description

Maiolica dish, painted in polychrome, with The Contest between the Muses and the Pierides.

Pale buff earthenware, tin-glazed on both sides; the glaze on the reverse is pale beige and speckled. Painted in blue, green, yellow, orange, beige, brown, manganese, black, and a little white high-lighting. Shape 64. Circular with narrow rim, and wide, shallow well. The Contest between the Muses and the Pierides. The nine daughters of Pierus stand on the right separated by a stream from the Muses, led by Callipte who holds a harp. Above, a group of nymphs, gods and goddesses, including Apollo and Minerva, serve as judges. In the landscape background there are stunted trees on hills, and on the right, a coastline with buildings and distant mountains. The edge is yellow. The back is inscribed in the middle in blue, 'Ausae Cum Musjs Committere proelja/Voce Victae nunc Volitant jmmitantes/omnia pjcae/Fatto jn Urbino in Botega de Mo (o raised)/Guido da Casteldurante' (Having dared to have contests with the Muses and defeated by voice, they now fly away as magpies imitating everything). Single yellow bands encircle the junction of the rim and well, and the outer edge.

Notes

History note: Probably the Comtesse de Cambis; Baron Achille Seillière; sold Christie's, 13 July 1888, Catalogue of Old Italian Maiolica from the Collection of a Well-known Amateur, lot 198 (95 guineas); Sir Otto Beit, London; Sir Alfred Beit, BT, MP, London; sold Sotheby's, 16 September 1942, Catalogue of the Important Italian Majolica the property of Sir Alfred Beit, B.T., M.P., p. 23, lot 63; sold to Louis C.G. Clarke for the Fitzwilliam.

Legal notes

Purchased with the Glaisher Fund

Measurements and weight

Diameter: 46 cm
Height: 5.2 cm

Place(s) associated

  • Urbino ⪼ The Marches ⪼ Italy

Acquisition and important dates

Method of acquisition: Bought (1942-10-16) by Sotheby's

Dating

Mid 16th century
Renaissance
Circa 1545 CE - 1550 CE

Note

Although the attribution to a workshop in Urbino is secure, the identity of the painter has been the subject of speculation. Orazio Fontana , Guido da Urbino's son, can be excluded because the painting on the front, and the handwriting on the back are far superior to those on a dish decorated with this subject which bore his monogram, which was formerly in the Schlossmuseum, Berlin but was destroyed during World War II. Bernard Rackham in 1940 considered that it might have been painted by Camillo Fontana, and in 1987 J.V.G. Mallet proposed Camillo Gatti as a likely executant.

The literary souce for the story of Muses and the Pierides was the Roman poet Ovid's Metamorphoses, Book V, 294-678. The nine daughters of Pierus, King of Emathia, overconfident of their musical talent, challenged the Muses to a singing contest. After all the contestants had performed, the adjudicating nymphs declared the Muses the winners. The Pierides unwisely clamoured against their decision, and as punishment for their presumption and rudeness were transformed into chattering magpies.

The source of the design was an engraving by G.G. Caraglio after The Contest between the Muses and the Pierides by Rosso Fiorentino (1494-1540), probably the painting now in the Louvre in Paris. The inscription on the back of the dish was taken from the bottom of the print where it appears in capitals, AUSAE CUM MUSIS COMMITTERE PROELIA VOCE VICTAE NUNC VOLITANT IMMITANTES OMNIA PICAE. This was a popular subject on maiolica but few pieces decorated with the whole scene have survived.

School or Style

Renaissance

People, subjects and objects depicted

Materials used in production

metallic oxide colours High-temperature colours pale buff Earthenware Tin-glaze

Techniques used in production

Moulding : Pale buff earthenware, tin-glazed on both sides; the glaze on the reverse is pale beige and speckled. Painted in blue, green, yellow, orange, beige, brown, manganese, black, and a little white high-lighting.
Painting Tin-glazing

Inscription or legends present

  • Text: Ausae Cum Musjs Committere proelja/Voce Victae nunc Volitant jmmitantes/omnia pjcae/Fatto jn Urbino in Botega de Mo (o raised)/Guido da Casteldurante'
  • Location: Middle of back
  • Method of creation: Painted in blue

References and bibliographic entries

Related exhibitions

Identification numbers

Accession number: EC.35-1942
Primary reference Number: 47105
Stable URI

Audit data

Created: Saturday 6 August 2011 Updated: Friday 13 March 2020 Last processed: Thursday 8 April 2021

Associated departments & institutions

Owner or interested party: The Fitzwilliam Museum
Associated department: Applied Arts

Citation for print

This record can be cited in the Harvard Bibliographic style using the text below:

The Fitzwilliam Museum (2022) "The Contest between the Muses and the Pierides" Web page available at: https://data.fitzmuseum.cam.ac.uk/id/object/47105 Accessed: 2022-05-18 00:13:57

Citation for Wikipedia

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{{cite web|url=https://data.fitzmuseum.cam.ac.uk/id/object/47105|title=The Contest between the Muses and the Pierides|author=The Fitzwilliam Museum|accessdate=2022-05-18 00:13:57|publisher=The University of Cambridge}}

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