Victoria and Albert: An Urbino Maiolica grotesque

Cipriano Piccolpasso writing on the potter’s art around 1557 observed that ‘grotesques have almost fallen out of use, and I don’t know why; it is a delicate style of painting”.  This maginificent example belies his report.  The central scene wittily alludes to the dish’s function:  it shows the biblical episode when the Children of Israel miraculously receive food from heaven.  Italy, Urbino, 1560-1580, Fontana Workshop, about 2 feet across.

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