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Cup with the Madonna of Loreto

Loreto, c. 1700 - 1750

27.2 cm (height)

tin-glazed earthenware (maiolica)

Around the exterior of the cup is the inscription CON.POL:ET.AQVA.DI.S.CASA: (with dust and water of the Holy House). On the underside is part of a red wax seal showing the Madonna of Loreto.

The shrine of the Virgin at Loreto, near Ancona, was built around the Santa Casa (Holy House), supposed to have been the house of the Virgin at the time of the Annunciation, miraculously carried from Nazareth to Loreto by angels. During the 14th and 15th centuries, the shrine, which also contained a venerated statue of the Virgin and the Santa Scodella (Holy Bowl) allegedly used by her, developed into one of the major pilgrimage centres of Europe. The miraculous powers of the shrine were held to be particularly efficacious against plague.

The bowl is painted with a scene of the Virgin and Child and the Santa Casa flying through clouds to Loreto; the iconography is similar to that of devotional broadsheets about the Loreto Madonna. Bowls of this sort were made for pilgrims, incorporating dust gathered at the site and water taken from the Santa Scodella. Some examples look stylistically similar to pieces made in Castelli, but it seems logical to suppose that most were made not far from Loreto.

Presented by C. D. E. Fortnum, 1888.  WA1888.CDEF.C464

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