Description This plate depicts an episode from the Roman poet Ovid’s (43 BCE-17 CE) “Metamorphoses.” On the right, the sun god Apollo chases Daphne, a virtuous nymph and the daughter of the river-god Peneus. According to Ovid, Daphne was saved from Apollo’s advances at the last moment when her father turned her into a laurel tree. This scene takes place before the start of Daphne’s transformation. Such imagery is representative of the “istoriato” (tells a story) style, which emerged in Italian maiolica centers at the beginning of the sixteenth century, and prioritized scenes from Classical or Biblical narratives. A large portion of the background landscape is painted with a luster glaze, a practice adopted from imported Spanish pottery. On the back of the plate, leaf scrolls painted in gold luster, and a floral motif with the date, 1540, are depicted. The “N” inscribed above the floral motif refers to either the painter or the lusterer. This plate was likely produced in Urbino or Gubbio, cities renowned for their maiolica wares with lustered compositions. To view other examples of maiolica with scenes of Apollo and Daphne, see 48.1368 and 48.1326; for more on the “istoriato” style, see 48.1487; for general information on “maiolica” see 48.1336.
Provenance Pannwitz [date and mode of acquisition unknown] [no. 253]; De Somzée Collection, Brussels [date and mode of acquisition unknown] (?); Henry Walters, Baltimore [date and mode of acquisition unknown]; Walters Art Museum, 1931, by bequest.
Inscriptions On the back, in the center, in ruby lustre, surmounting a floral motif: [Date] 1540 ; Surmounting the date, in ruby lustre, a small uppercase letter: [Signature] N
Credit Acquired by Henry Walters
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