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Maiolica dish by Xanto
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Descrizione dell'oggetto

A documentary and unrecorded maiolica dish by Xanto\ninscribed, signed and dated 1530, Brilliantly painted with an allegory of the Sack of Rome in 1527, showing soldiers of the Holy Roman Empire drunkenly assaulting the citizens of Rome while a stupefied Bacchus and a horrified Pope look on, Venus being consoled by Cupid in the foreground, the goddess Juno watching from the skies, a tablet dated 1527 in her lap ( broken in half and repaired)\nThe reverse inscribed in blue in Xanto's hand;'Il di qui[n]to di maggio La[n]ci & Spani col favor di Giunon[e] entraro[n]o  Roma & hebber[o] Pietro & Bacco nelle mani\nHistoria/\nFra[ncesco]: Xa[n]to. Ave[lli]: Rovig[ese].\nPi[n]x[it]  i[n] Urbino.\n1530'(On the fifth day of May the Landsknechts and the Spanish with the favour of Juno entered Rome and had Peter and Bacchus in their hands. History/... )\n46cm., 18in.
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notes

This magnificent large dish is a new discovery, and a remarkable and important addition to the canon of work of one of the most celebrated maiolica painters of the Renaissance.

Francesco Xanto Avelli, from the small North Italian town of Rovigo,  first came to Urbino around 1522, and his movements in the early few years are difficult to establish; he seems to have spent a settled period between 1524 and 1525 at Gubbio, then the following two or three years working on a less settled basis in Urbino, his work developing alongside that of the celebrated Nicola da Urbino.

By 1530 he seems to have settled in Urbino; a legal document of 7th August of that year, recording a dispute between master-potters and their employees, lists Nicola on one side of the dispute and Xanto on the other. This previously unrecorded dish is one of only three dated by Xanto 1530, the first year in which any of his work is both dated and signed. It is also notable as one of the few pieces bearing both his characteristic `y/phi' flourish and a signature.

A poet himself, Xanto had his own strong opinions on contemporary politics, often expressed in his lengthy inscriptions, and he was no slavish reproducer of others' designs. His complicated allegories, sometimes difficult to unravel, typically made use of elements from several printed sources, and here we have, amongst others, figures from Marcantonio Raimondi's Rape of Helen and Baccio Bandinelli's Massacre of the Innocents, and in the foreground Marcantonio's Venus, representing Rome itself.

Another Xanto dish in the Museum at Faenza,  lost in the second world war , showed the subsequent scene, with Pope Clement VII escaping to safety via a secret passage to the Castel Sant'Angelo, and was inscribed 'Clemente in Castell chiuso & Roma langue' (Clement shut in the Castello and Rome suffers). For a discussion of Xanto's series of dishes concerning the Sack of Rome, together with a detailed catalogue of all the known pieces ascribed to him, see the standard work on the artist,  by J.V.G.Mallet et al., Xanto, Pottery-Painter, Poet, Man of the Italian Renaissance, Wallace Collection, 2007, p.19 and Appendix C.

As John Mallet says in that work, 'No maiolica painter...offers such a commentary...on the turbulent political and military events of early sixteenth-century Italy'.  This dish, an elaborate poetic commentary on perhaps the most terrible of the military conflicts of Xanto's lifetime, is a major addition to the known works of this significant artist.

dimensions

Brilliantly painted with an allegory of the Sack of Rome in 1527, showing soldiers of the Holy Roman Empire drunkenly assaulting the citizens of Rome while a stupefied Bacchus and a horrified Pope look on, Venus being consoled by Cupid in the foreground, the goddess Juno watching from the skies, a tablet dated 1527 in her lap ( broken in half and repaired) Pi[n]x[it]  i[n] Urbino. 46cm., 18in.


*Nota: il prezzo non corrisponde al valore odierno, ma si riferisce soltanto al reale prezzo di aggiudicazione al momento dell'acquisto.

*Nota: il prezzo non corrisponde al valore odierno, ma si riferisce soltanto al reale prezzo di aggiudicazione al momento dell'acquisto.


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