Flask of imitation porcelain
Painted in underglaze blue with sprays of foliage and flowers. Italian, Florence, probably between 1575 and 1587, maximum height 18.5 cm. Marked beneath the base with the Dome of Florence Cathedral and F.
This is one of about seventy known surviving examples of the earliest successful attempt in Europe to imitate Chinese porcelain. The porcelain-making project was sponsored by the Medici Grand Dukes of Tuscany between about 1575 and 1587. The firing temperatures were at the limit of contemporary Italian ceramic technology and the blue has run slightly in firing. The flask was bought in Naples in 1879 by Fortnum, whose gifts and bequest are still the basis of the Ashmolean's collections of sculpture and decorative arts of the Renaissance. [Bequeathed by C.D.E. Fortnum, WA1899.CDEF.C298].
Second Floor, Room 43, Italian Renaissance