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‘Apotheosis of Jupiter’ tazza: C.41-1972

An image of Tazza

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Object information

Current Location: In storage


‘Apotheosis of Jupiter’ tazza


Production: Minton & Co.




Pale cream earthenware, painted in shades of brown under clear glaze.

Wide, saucer-shaped dish on low spool-like foot. The design, on a buff ground which covers the upper surface, shows Jupiter holding the beak of a swan above Leda and the new-born Castor and Pollux, with other figures and a bull, against a background of trees, cliffs and flowing water. The figures are outlined in purple-brown. A thin cream toothed band runs around the rim. The raised foot is decorated with an undulating ivy leaf tendril, between two horizontal bands, all on a buff ground. The underside of the foot is glazed, with two suspension holes in the upper side.


History note: From the Charles & Lavinia Handley-Read Collection.

Legal notes

Bought with the Percival Fund and the Victoria & Albert Museum Grant in Aid fund

Measurements and weight

Diameter: 34.5 cm
Height: 6 cm

Place(s) associated

  • Stoke ⪼ Staffordshire ⪼ England

Acquisition and important dates

Method of acquisition: Bought (1972-10-19) by Stainton, Thomas


Production date: AD 1862 : dated


Kirkby is said to have painted the first piece of ‘Majolica ware’ produced by Minton. Launched at the Great Exhibition of 1851, to great acclaim, wares ‘coloured in the Majolica style’ took inspiration from Italian maiolica, tin-glazed earthenware with finely painted decoration. Some Minton designers, such as Kirkby, favoured close imitation of Italian designs (as here), though 19th-century ‘Majolica ware’ more often favours sculptural forms and brightly coloured lead glazes.

Minton, founded in 1793 by Thomas Minton (1765-1836) , originally produced blue printed earthenware and, later, creamware, bone china and other products, particularly tableware. Taking over in 1836, his son Herbert Minton revolutionised production methods and introduced new lines in encaustic and printed tiles, figures and ornamental wares. In 1858 the business passed to Herbert’s nephew, Colin Minton Campbell (1827-85), who continued the expansion. The early business traded under various names, from 1845 it was known as Minton & Co. and from 1873 as Mintons Ltd.

Thomas Kirkby (1824-1901) joined Minton as an apprentice in 1837, rising to Art Curator before his retirement in 1887. He specialised in painting classical figure subjects in the style of Italian maiolica. There is another Minton tazza of this design in the V & A Museum, inscribed 'Apotheosis of the Amours of Jupiter from Julia [sic] Romano', however recent scholarship suggests the image is in fact taken from a drawing by Pirro Ligorio (c.1513-1583) , though perhaps based on an original work by Giulio Romano (1489-1546). The V & A tazza, inscribed 'T Kirkby pinx Minton & Co’, was exhibited at the 1862 London International Exhibition. The presence of a second artist’s signature on this example suggests that Kirby used an assistant in painting this tazza, maybe to order after the exhibition.

School or Style

Renaissance Revival

People, subjects and objects depicted

Components of the work

Decoration composed of pigment clear glaze

Materials used in production


Techniques used in production

Moulding : Pale cream earthenware, painted in shades of brown under clear glaze.

Inscription or legends present

  • Text: Kirkby
  • Location: Bottom lhs of image, under Leda's left foot
  • Method of creation: Painted
  • Type: Inscription

Inscription present: signature, possibly ‘Ruisiola’ [?]

  • Location: Bottom lhs of image, under Leda's right foot
  • Type: Inscription
  • Text: MINTON
  • Location: Underside of base
  • Method of creation: Impressed
  • Type: Factory mark

Inscription present: circular crown and ermine mark

  • Location: Underside of base
  • Method of creation: Stamped in red
  • Type: Factory mark
  • Text: Apotheosis of Jupiter
  • Location: Underside of base
  • Method of creation: Handpainted in purple-red
  • Type: Inscription

References and bibliographic entries

Identification numbers

Accession number: C.41-1972
Primary reference Number: 74966
Stable URI

Audit data

Created: Saturday 6 August 2011 Updated: Wednesday 15 July 2020 Last processed: Friday 16 February 2024

Associated departments & institutions

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

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The Fitzwilliam Museum (2024) "‘Apotheosis of Jupiter’ tazza" Web page available at: Accessed: 2024-07-15 14:08:09

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