Lot 3
  • 3

A faenza berettino dish, circa 1540

8,000 - 12,000 GBP
bidding is closed


  • Diam. 25.5cm., 10in.
painted on the dark blue ground with St John and initials S G in the centre, the broad rim with polychrome masks, putti heads and inhabited scrolls, the reverse with radiating petals alternately filled with blue and orange transverse lines, the middle with a crossed circle and a small circle in the middle

Catalogue Note

This type of dish, painted with grotesque ornaments reserved on a blue glaze are called a berettino, and were firstly developed in polychrome and then in white. The polychromed examples are usually dated between 1510 and 1525, and one painter, called ‘the master of the Speckled birds’, who seems to have specialised in this type of ornament, is documented in the first half of the 16th century. Currently, the earliest known decorated dish is dated 1507 on the front and is now in the Gallerie Estense, Modena.

The mark in the centre of the reverse occurs on numerous Faenza dishes. It used to be identified as a fire wheel or pyros rota, was associated in the 19th century with the pottery workshop known as the Casa Pirota in Faenza. This theory has been contradicted since however: A V B  Norman suggested that  this mark stands for an inflatable ball used in the game Pallone and suggested that, if it had a punning meaning, it might be associated with the Dalle Palle family of potters. Its exact significance remains to be discovered and it may not even be a workshop mark at all. A dish, with very similar grotesque decoration, similar hatched pointed arches on the reverse and identical mark (a small circle in one quadrant instead of a dot found more often) is in the Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge,
see J. Poole, 1995, Fig. 330.