A maiolica dish from Montelupo, Tuscany

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A maiolica dish from Montelupo, Tuscany

Montelupo is a small town on the river Arno, a few km downstream from Florence. From the late 15th century until the 18th it was a major producer of maiolica - tin-glazed earthenware painted with bright and often accomplished patterns. Its potteries supplied not only the local market of Tuscany but distant ports; a scatter of its wares is known from excavations in Britain, notably at Southampton, Plymouth, Poole, London and Exeter. This dish with its broad flat rim belongs to the shape of dishes named in Italy piatti scudelliformi. The decoration in cobalt blue belongs to the style motivi vegetali della 'famiglia bleu' which is datable to the period c. 1480-1520. It matches very closely a number of dishes excavated in the kiln sites at Montelupo, and was almost certainly made there. This is the most complete example of Montelupo maiolica found in Exeter, but about a dozen other finds are also known from the city, and the museum also holds in its collection further fragments from excavations at Totnes and Dartington Hall.

Acknowledgments: RAM Museum Exeter Archaeology

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