Rectangular tray with raised corollas on the sides, forming small feet on the lower edge. Polychrome majolica: in the upper section a beautiful "raffaellesca" with a sanguine depicting Dio che parla a Noè (Genesis IX, 13) in a central medallion; at the corners, four alternating triangles on a green and blue background, painted with small scenes; in the middle cameos with figures on a black background; in the lower part, "raffaellesca" and inserted in a sanguine painted rectangle, with a blood-blue border, the allegory of the music in the center: Musa ignuda incedente su prato con tamburello.
H. cm. 6, cm. 30 x 34;
Urbino, Orazio Fontana in Guido durantino atelier; ca. 1550
Extremely rare tray, with unusual functional shape, with extraordinary decoration inspired to “grotesque” of Raffaello “Loggetta”, in Vatican City. The miniaturist figures on dark background remind to the master ductus, as visible on glyptic elements of upper section. The Biblical episode of God and Noah is depicted in “sanguine” style with the bow as alliance path. The scene derives from Bernard Salomon vignette no. IX; the Old Testament characters were edit by D. Maraffi, with Tuscan verses in Lion, 1554, and then in C. Paradin, Quadrins historiques de la Bible, Jean de Tournes, Lion, 1555. Interesting figure surrounds four time the main circle, unnoticed into the fantastic scenes of “raffaellesca”. Interpreted as a magic Spirit, with pointed hat, holding a balloon or spin with a stick or string. This scene could be read as sphera armillare, people’s heritage world depiction, fashionable among scholars and astrologist since ancient time. Attested also in a marquetry of Federico from Montefeltro Studiolo, Duke of Urbino, ascribed to Benedetto da Maiano workshop. On the lower side, a beautiful Musa ignuda che tiene un tamburello walks solemnly in a particular “raffaellesca”. Identifiable with Euterpe or Erato, as amoroso poem muse, usually depicted with a tambourine. This incredible and rare tray is ascribed to Orazio Fontana, at the beginning of “grottesca bramantesca” on black background to the modern Raffaello interpretation in Vatican Loggias of middle XVI century, still active in the Guido durantino atelier, later called Fontana.
[Reference: G. Gardelli, Urbino nella storia della ceramica. Note sulla grottesca, (edit by) T, Wilson, Italian Renaissance Pottery, London 1991, pp.126 – 135.]