Angelo Minghetti started his own workshop in Bologna in 1849, where he set about trying to recapture the art of 15th and 16th century Italian majolica, especially the Urbino ware. He exhibited the vase upon which this lot is based at the International Exhibition of Vienna in 1873 to great acclaim, most likely due to the fact that since 1570, craftsmen had been unable to reproduce the beauty of the old ware in such a monumental piece.
The relief represents the Triumph of Bacchus, the Roman god of wine. On the way back from his successful journey to India, Bacchus, with his usual company of Maenads, Satyrs and Silenus, came to the island of Naxos, where he discovered Ariadne and married her. Some of these figures, the reclining woman for example, are directly inspired by `The Marriage of Bacchus and Ariadne', the central panel of the Farnese ceiling (1597-1603) by Arnnibale Carracci. Other elements are indirectly related to Titian's Bacchanal (1518) and Bacchus and Ariadne (1523).
The coat of arms on the base may refer to the arms of the Duke of Montpensier, who commissioned several pieces from Angelo Minghetti.