This September Dreweatts will offer a rare and unusual ceramic find in The Fine Sale. Featured in the auction is Lot 36, this wonderful late 16th century Castelli D'Abruzzo maiolica blue-ground dish (piatto 'alla Turchina') from the Cardinal Farnese service. Ahead of the auction Geoffrey Stafford Charles, Director of Dreweatts' British & Continental Ceramics & Glass department, explains what it is about this find which makes it so rare and unusual.
This Italian maiolica plate from Castelli, a town in the Abruzzo region, is decorated with the arms of a cardinal, in this case Alessandro Farnese (1520-89) of the great renaissance Farnese family. With family connections such as his, there is little wonder that he rose high through the church ranks, no doubt aided by ability, as he was the papal legate responsible for bringing peace between the warring factions of the Holy Roman Empire and France.
Cardinal Alessandro Farnese is thought to have ordered the service sometime between 1574 and his death in 1589. He ordered a service in the Turkish manner (alla Turchina) from various workshops in Castelli and probably added to it from time to time. It is typically decorated in white and ochre enamels and gilt with the Farnese Arms beneath galero suspending tassels.
The attribution stems from excavations of blue decorated ware in the Abruzzo region. There are two more elaborate plates bearing the date 1574 to be found in the Museo Nazionale di Capodimonte in Naples.
Being a service, plates do crop up from time to time but this is still rare. The current owner chanced upon it in a market on the South coast for a couple of pounds and bought it thinking that it might have merit. On finding a similar example in the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford, he knew it did.
Wednesday 9 September | 10.30am
Donnington Priory, Newbury, Berkshire RG14 2JE
This is an online auction with auctioneer.
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