Lot 63
  • 63

A Venice Maiolica albarello, indistinctly dated 156(?), workshop of Maestro Domenego da Venezia

25,000 - 35,000 GBP
bidding is closed


  • maiolica
of tall cylindrical form, slightly waisted with a flared rim and foot, the front with a label inscribed 'Mostarda.', flanked by leafy branches and putti heads, the reverse painted with a horse, a swan, trophies of war and instruments reserved on a blue Sgraffito ground, the underside with incised AB monogram,


With Altomani, Pesaro (paper label);
The Koelliker collection;
sold Wannenes, Genoa, 11-12th October 2011, lot. 1.


Related Literature
Camille Leprince and Justin Raccanello, Urbino - Venice, Italian Renaissance ceramics, London, 2016;
Dora Thornton and Timothy Wilson, Italian Renaissance Ceramics, A catalogue of the British Museum Collection, Vol. I, London, 2009, pp. 326-328;
C. Ravanelli Guidotti, Maioliche della piu bella fabbrica, Brescia, 2006, pp. 118-223;
Timothy Wilson, Italian Maiolica of the Renaissance, Milan, 1996, pp. 464-469, nos. 182-183;
J. Lessmann, 'Majoliken aus der Werkstatt der Fontana', in Faenza, 1979, no. 600, 783-784;
J. Heukensfeldt, Majolica, Amsterdam, 1961, no. 25.

Catalogue Note

This magnificent albarello belongs to a group unarguably among the finest of maiolica wares produced in mid-16th century Venice. The vigorously painted troffei decoration is exemplary of its type. As seen in the plates of Cipriano Piccolpasso (1523 -1579), Li tre libri dell’arte del vasaio, the earliest treaties on the production of maiolica,i the motif was very popular, and can also be seen on wares attributed to workshop of Jacomo da Pesaro, Domenego's father in law. It was particularly used in the state of Urbino.

The present albarello can be placed in the same group as two featuring animals and birds attributed to the workshop of Maestro Domenego, both of which feature a similar blue sgraffito ground reserving leafy branches and bands of fruiting vine at the rims.ii Amongst those attributed to the same workshop a good comparable is the large albarello in the British museum, London, labelled for Mostarda with a similar strapwork cartouche and gothic script, published by Thornton and Wilson, op. cit, 2009, p. 96, where the authors note the comparable example in Frankfurt marked and signed 'Domenego da Venecia feci Zenner 1568'.

The presence of an incised AB monogram is unclear. It could perhaps be the initials of the potter but more likely it belongs to the recipient. Such incised marks are often associated with Apothecary jars.

Mostarda was a sweet tangy preparation of fruits, combined with mustard and honey or sugar. The surviving jars labelled for Mostarda mostly appear to be of this larger form suggesting that it was consumed in large quantities in 16th century Italy. A large albarello for Mostarda with uncertain origin is published by Tim Wilson, Maiolica, Italian Renaissance Ceramics in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, 2016, pp. 264-265, no. 93.

i. Commissioned between 1556-1559, a surviving copy is in the V&A museum, London. For reproduced plates see Camille Leprince and Justin Raccanello, op. cit.;
ii. Published by Wilson, op. cit., 1996, nos. 182-183; the Koelliker collection; sold Wannenes, Genoa, 11th-12th October 2011, lots 4-5.