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Plate with Samson Killing the Philistines
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Plate with Samson Killing the Philistines

Description Provenance Inscription Credit
Description In this scene, Samson stands on top of four slaughtered Philistines. With both hands he holds the spear that he used to kill them. Samson was a traditional emblem of virtue during the Renaissance period, and his slaying of the Philistines symbolized the triumph of good over evil. This subject is representative of maiolica wares painted in the “istoriato” style, which focused on stories from Classical antiquity or the Bible that provided a lesson. The exaggerated musculature and twisted bodies of Samson and the Philistines reflects contemporary Mannerist painting styles, and the violent action is set off by the serenity of the landscape.The back of the plate is stained with green and decorated with three concentric yellow circles; in the center an inscription painted in blue, "desanson ei fili/stei" identifies the scene depicted on the plate's obverse side.This plate was likely made in the workshop of Girolamo Lanfranco the elder, a maiolica painter from the town of Pesaro. For more on ‘maiolica’, see 48.1336.
Provenance H. Wencke Collection, Hamburg [date and mode of acquisition unknown] [no. 15] (?); Seligmann, Paris [date and mode of acquisition unknown]; Henry Walters, Baltimore, May 7, 1908, by purchase; Walters Art Museum, 1931, by bequest.
Inscriptions [Inscription] On the back, between the footring, in blue: desanson ei fili / stei; [Previous Collection inv. no.] 15
Credit Acquired by Henry Walters, 1908

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ca. 1540-1550 (Renaissance)
earthenware with tin glaze (maiolica)
Accession Number
1 5/8 x 11 3/4 in. (4.1 x 29.8 cm)


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