‘An Urbino Maiolica Istoriato Footed Dish (Alzata)’, ca. 1525, Christie's Old Masters


The print source for this alzata is an engraving 'The Assumption of the Virgin with St. Thomas', thought to be Florentine and possibly by Francesco Rosselli (1448-after 1508). The composition seems to be related to an unattributed (circle of Baldovinetti) fresco in the sacristy of S. Niccolo sopr'Arno in Florence.

This alzata was originally attributed by Rackham to Francesco Xanto Avelli, and in a letter to J. Scott-Taggart he stated that Xanto's later works seldom show the restraint and carefulness of your dish which is evidently of exceptionally fine quality. However, the quiet, more polished, treatment of the figures and scene suggests that this piece is by the anonymous artist who has been dubbed The Milan Marsyas Painter by John Mallet. Mallet identified a group of pieces which share similar stylistic traits to the inscribed tondino (depicting Marsyas) in the Castello Sforzesco, Milan (inv. 133). This anonymous artist's style is very similar to that of Nicola da Urbino's early work, and it is highly probable that he worked in the same workshop as Nicola.

Urbino, Palazzo Ducale, July-September 1987, no. 23.

B. Rackham, Faenza XVIII, 1957, p. 99.

J. P. von Erdberg, Burlington Magazine, CIII, 1961, p. 299.

J. Scott-Taggart, Italian Maiolica, 1972, p. 48.

G. Gardelli, A Gran Fuoco, Mostra di Maioliche Rinascimentali dello Stato di Urbino da Collezioni Private, exhibition catalogue, Urbino, Palazzo Ducale, 1987, pp. 68-69, no. 23.

J.V.G. Mallet, 'Xanto, i Suoi Compagni e Seguaci', in G.B. Siviero, Francesco Xanto Avelli da Rovigo, Rovigo, 1988, fig. 9, where he attributes it to The Milan Marsyas Painter.

W.J.H. Whittall Collection; Sotheby's, London, 18 April 1947, lot 39.

with Alfred Spero, London.

John Scott-Taggart Collection; Christie's, London, 14 April 1980, lot 16.