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Prospero Fontana

Attributed to Prospero Fontana (Bologna 1512–1597 Bologna)
Two Alternative Designs for a Dish, One with a Battle of Marine Creatures, the Other with a Bacchanal
Pen and brown ink, brown wash; stylus indentations at right; composition silhouetted to a fan shape
Inscribed on made-up part at lower center, in pen and brown ink, Baldassare Peruzzi da Siena.
10 3/4 x 16 1/4 inches (271 x 408 mm)
Purchased by Pierpont Morgan, 1910; IV, 187
See CORSAIR catalog record for this item »

This drawing is probably a design for a large piatto da pompa, a platter typically made of embossed silver and used for display on a credenza during festive occasions. Alternatively, the design may have been intended for a majolica wine cooler, as suggested by its marine and Bacchic themes. The dish, however, does not seem quite deep enough for this purpose.

The traditional attribution to Baldassare Peruzzi recorded in the old inscription was accepted until 1991, when the more decorative style of Fontana was recognized.

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Background images: Photography by Todd Eberle unless otherwise noted. © 2006 Todd Eberle.