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Plate with a vision of the infant Octavian; on the reverse, arms of Lancierini

Durantino (alias Fontana) Guido, possibly

Urbino, c. 1550

24 cm (diameter); cm (diameter)

tin-glazed earthenware (maiolica)

On the reverse, yellow rings and, in blue: ottaviano inperatore (the emperor Octavian) around a shield of arms of Lancierini.

The subject is a legend told by Suetonius how the infant Octavian (later the Emperor Augustus), left in his cradle overnight, could not be found in the morning. He was eventually found on a tower, facing the sun. The subject was treated by Giulio Romano in the Palazzo Ducale in Mantua, but that is not the source of the present plate.

This along with plates LI192.4 and WA1899.CDEF.C445 are from a series of plates which have on the back the arms of the Lancierini of Rome; at least 27 have survived. The individual member of the family for whom the series were made has not been identified. Of those recorded, eleven plates (including one in the British Museum) and a salt have subjects from Ovid’s Metamorphoses; seven have subjects from the Trojan War and ancient history; and four have Old Testament subjects. The most recent serious discussion (C. Fiocco, G. Gherardi, and L. Sfeir-Fakhri, Majoliques italiennes du Musée des Arts Décoratifs Lyon, Dijon 2001, no. 162), suggests an attribution to the workshop in Urbino of Guido Durantino (alias Fontana).

The painting may be by the same artist as plate with Abraham and the Angels, but it is not clear that the handwriting is the same.

Lent from a private collection.  LI192.5

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