The basin shows the campaigns and triumphs of Julius Caesar. The
three outer panels are painted with scenes of barbarians surrendering
to Caesar, while the centre shows the submission of the
English. Surrounding these delicately painted panels are
grotesques on a white background, as was the trend in up-market
maiolica at this time. On the reverse of the basin are three pairs
The court of the Della Rovere Dukes of Urbino was a hive of cultural
activity and patronage during the Renaissance, and maiolica was
a local speciality. Around 1560, Duke Guidobaldo II of Urbino
placed one of the most prestigious orders in the history of maiolica,
commissioning a series of drawings of Caesars triumphs from
the artist Taddeo Zuccaro for a maiolica service which he presented
to King Philip II of Spain.
No piece of this original set survives, but it seems the Urbino
painters made great use of the designs over the next thirty years.
This three-lobed basin is one of the most elaborate examples using
these original images.