Description This flask is an example of “istoriato” (tells a story) maiolica, as it depicts a story from the Roman poet Ovid’s (43 BCE-17 AD) “The Metamorphoses,” and the Greek poet Homer’s “The Iliad.” According to both authors, Meleager, son of King Oineus of Calydon, led a party of some of the greatest hunters of Greece in hunting a giant wild boar that was ravaging the countryside. The beautiful huntress Atalanta was the first to hit the boar with her arrow, and Meleager killed the beast with his spear. On one side of this flask, Atalanta walks with a drawn bow towards the right, accompanied by two huntsmen. On the opposite side, four huntsmen surround the boar with swords and clubs. The boar moves towards the left, but is struck in the back by Meleager’s spear. This composition may have been adopted from Baldassare Peruzzi’s (1481-1536) frescoes of the same subject in the Villa Farnesina in Rome. The decorative dragon handles on this flask make it unusual and emphasize the fact that it was used strictly for display, as they are too delicate to suspend the heavy flask safely. The graceful shape is adapted from light-weight drinking flasks carried by travelers. Recognizing this origin and the impossibility of a heavy ceramic vessel functioning in this way would add a touch of amusement to the visual enjoyment of the viewer. For another maiolica flask, see 48.1373; for more information on “istoriato” wares, see 48.1487; for more on “maiolica,” see 48.1336.
Provenance De Somzée Collection [date and mode of acquisition unknown] [no. 279]; D. Wilhelm von Pannwitz Collection, Munich [date and mode of acquisition unknown], sale at auction of the Sammlung Von Pannwitz, Galerie Helbing, Munich, 1905, no. 255; J. Seligmann [date and mode of acquisition unknown] [no. 10]; Henry Walters, Baltimore, Nov. 6, 1908 [mode of acquisition unknown]; Walters Art Museum, 1931, by bequest.
Credit Acquired by Henry Walters, 1908
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