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Bowl: C.130-1933

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Object information

Current Location: Gallery 6 (Upper Marlay): case 1, shelf B


Pottery: Unidentified Orvieto pottery




Tin-glazed earthenware painted in manganese and green with a woman between rampant antelopes and branches.

Pale buff earthenware, the interior tin-glazed off-white, the exterior and top of the rim lead-glazed honey-brown. Painted in manganese and copper-green. Shape 22 (Poole 1995). Circular with carinated sides, standing on a low, solid foot; the sides curve upwards and outwards to the widest point and then rise vertically for c. 3.5 cm, to the rim which is flat on top.
In the middle, a woman stands between rampant antelopes and branches bearing heart-shaped leaves reserved in cross-hatching. She wears a crown and a long gown, and holds a long-necked ewer in her right hand, and a beaker in her raised left hand. The sides are encircled by a green chain with a manganese band above and below. The top of the rim is decorated with oblique green lines.


History note: Excavated in Orvieto; purportedly Miss Walters Cacciolo, Taormina, Sicily; Ercole Canessa before 1915; sold New York, 1919, Illustrated Catalogue of the Canessa Collection of rare and valuable objects of art, lot 216. Alfred A. De Pass.

Legal notes

Given by Alfred A. De Pass in memory of his son, Crispin (d. 1918)

Measurements and weight

Height: 11.2 cm

Place(s) associated

  • Orvieto ⪼ Umbria ⪼ Italy

Acquisition and important dates

Method of acquisition: Given (1933-06) by de Pass, Alfred A.


13th Century
14th Century
Circa 1275 CE - Circa 1375 CE


The carinated shape of the bowl is similar to a bowl decorated with a crowned woman standing beside a siren, in the Bargello Museum, Florence, and to a bowl decorated with a crowned, bifurcated siren whose tails are decorated with two shields charged with the arms of Monaldeschi of Orvieto and one charged with fleur-de-lys. The latter arms were identified by Pericale Perali as those of Charles of Anjou who visited Orvieto in 1267 and 1273, and Giuseppe Liverani modified this by pointing out that it would have been before 1273 when the arms of Anjou were combined with those of Jerusalem. However, the fleur-de-lys were also a charge on the Farnese family's shield of arms, and in 1993 Alberto Satolli hypothesized that the two shields on the dish might have been intended for Bartolomeo Farnese and Violante Monaldeschi della Cervara who were married about 1316-20. The similarities of form and style of decoration indicate that the Fitzwilliam's bowl was probably made at about the same time, probably in the early 14th century rather than the 1260s or 1270s.

The partly striped gown of the crowned woman and the flanking plants resemble those on three large bowls of different shapes which were formerly in the Imbert collection and are now in the Museum of Art, San Paolo, Brazil. Her crowned head resmbles those on smaller bowls in an Italian private collection and in the Museo Internazionale delle Ceramiche, Faenza. The crowns may denote royalty , but an allegorical meaning also seems possible, in which case this woman may represent Temperance. A comparable woman standing between two monsters is depicted on a two-handled bowl in the Palazzo di Venezia, Rome. Parti-coloured clothing, with one side a different colour or pattern from the other, was fashionable in the 14th century.

School or Style

maiolica arcaica

People, subjects and objects depicted

Components of the work

Decoration composed of high-temperature colours ( manganese and copper-green)
Exterior composed of lead-glaze
Interior composed of tin-glaze
Foot Diameter 14.2 cm
Rim Diameter 31.5 cm

Materials used in production


Inscription or legends present

Inscription present: rectangular with cut corners and printed royal blue border

  • Text: An Orvieto deep dish or basin/for washing hands. 14"/decorated with a female/Saint supported by stags/in pale green and aubergine/Canessa & de Pass Colls
  • Method of creation: Inscribed in black ink
  • Type: Label

Inscription present: rectangular with cut corners and printed royal blue border

  • Text: This resembles to/Catalan faience at/Barcelona Museum/if not Orvieto it must be Spain
  • Method of creation: Inscribed
  • Type: Label

References and bibliographic entries

Related exhibitions

Identification numbers

Accession number: C.130-1933
Primary reference Number: 47343
Stable URI

Audit data

Created: Saturday 6 August 2011 Updated: Monday 18 December 2023 Last processed: Monday 18 December 2023

Associated departments & institutions

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

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The Fitzwilliam Museum (2024) "Bowl" Web page available at: Accessed: 2024-07-15 07:39:40

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