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Vulcan Painter probably (painter)


tin-glazed earthenware






Maiolica basin for ewer, painted in polychrome, with a fox and bear with a shield of arms in a landscape, a battle between centaurs and satyrs, and eight medallions painted with subjects from the Bible and Roman history surrounded by grotesques.

Pale buff earthenware, tin-glazed white overall. Painted in dark blue, pale blue, green, yellow, orange, red, and black. Shape 69. Circular with sloping rim, upturned slightly at the edge; deep sides moulded with oblique reversed gadroons; flat centre with ribs encircling its outer edge and the emplacement for the ewer in the middle; low foot ring on the back. The central medallion contains a landscape in which a fox attempts to wrest a shield from the possession of a bear. The bear holds a sword in its right forepaw and rests its left on the shield, which is of testa di cavallo form, charged with the arms per fess gules and argent, overall a tree eradicated. A scroll above is inscribed, 'E COSI VA CHE TROPO VOLLE' (This is what happens to him who wants too much). The rest of the base is decorated with a battle between male and female satyrs and centaurs. The gadroons on the sides are painted in blue with stylised plants. On the rim there are grotesques reserved in a blue ground, interrupted by eight oval medallions, painted with eight subjects from the Bible and Roman history: Marcus Curtius leaping into the chasm, Dido falling on her sword, David with the head of Goliath, Judith with the head of Holofernes, Mucius Scaevola thrusting his right hand into the fire, a woman with a shield, Horatius defending the bridge and, probably, the suicide of Lucretia. The back is decorated in blue and yellow with a trophy of two crossed quivers, a bow, and an arrow, surrounded by delicate coiling blue stems with blue, orange, and green foliage. The footring is blue with an invected circle within it. The sides and rim are decorated with blue and orange horizontally striped petals between blue bands and there are two blue bands on the outer edge.

Production Place

Cafaggiolo (painter) (place) ()

Tuscany (painter) (region)

Italy (painter) (country)

Technique Description

pale buff earthenware, tin-glazed white overall. Painted in dark blue, pale blue, green, yellow, orange, red, and black.


height: (whole): 5.5 cm
diameter: (whole): 46.3 cm


16th century


circa 1520 to 1530


bought: Spero, Alfred 1946 (Filtered for: Applied Arts collection)

Baron Lionel de Rothschild; Mrs Leopold de Rothschild; Alfred Spero, London.

Purchased with the Leverton Harris Fund and with a contribution from the National Art Collections Fund (now The Art Fund).


  1. inscription
    Translation: This is what happens to him who wants too much


  1. (1862) Special Exhibition of Works of Art of the Mediaeval, Renaissance and More Recent Periods, London [page: p. 405]
    [comments: Publ. p. 405, no. 5162. Property of Baron Lionel de Rothschild.]
  2. (1947) National Art-Collections Fund Annual Report 1946, London [page: p. 24]
    [comments: Publ. p. 24, no. 14237, ill. opposite]
  3. (1947) Illustrated London News, London [page: p. 210] 15 February 1947)
    [comments: Publ. Illustrated p. 210]
  4. Rackham, Bernard (1952) Italian Maiolica, London: Faber & Faber [page: p. 18]
    [comments: Publ. pl. 50A & B & p. 18. Dated to c. 1515-20]
  5. Liverani, Giuseppe (1958) La maiolica italiana sino alla comparsa della porcellana europea, Milan
    [comments: Publ. pl. 38, in colour.]
  6. Winter, Carl (1958) The Fitzwilliam Museum, An Illustrated Survey, London: Trianon Press
    [comments: Publ. no. 44]
  7. Rackham, Bernard (1963) Italian Maiolica, London: Faber & Faber
    [comments: Publ. pl. 50A & B]
  8. Bellini, Mario (1964) Maioliche italiane del Rinascimento, Milan [page: p. 73]
    [comments: Publ. p. 73. Dated to 1515-20]
  9. Palmer, Jock Pegler Italian maiolica of the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, [page: p. 19]
    Source title: Apollo (February 1966)
    [comments: Publ.p. 19, no. 9. Dated to c. 1515-20]
  10. Scavizzi, Giuseppe (1966) Maioliche dal rinascimento ad oggi, Milan [page: p. 19]
    [comments: Publ. p. 19, no. 9, p. 23, pl. 9 in colour. Dated to c. 1515-20.]
  11. Malle, Luigi (1974) Maioliche italiane dalle origini al settecento, Milan
    [comments: Publ. no. 17]
  12. Conti, Giovanni (1980) L'arte della maiolica in Italia, 2nd edition, Milan
    [comments: Publ. pl. 140]
  13. Cairola, Aldo (1981) Ceramica italiana dalle origini a oggi, Rome [page: p. 87]
    [comments: Publ. p. 87]
  14. Cora, Galeazzo (1982) La maiolica di Cafaggiolo, Florence [page: p. 83]
    [comments: Publ. p. 83, pl. 67]
  15. (1982) Treasures of the Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge (Cambs.): Pevensey Press [page: pp. 40-1]
    [comments: Publ. pp. 40-1, no. 38]
  16. Rasmussen, Jörg Eine Majolika für Willibald Pirckheimer, [page: pp. 294-303]
    Source title: Jahrbuch des Zentralinstituts für Kunstgeschichte (1986)
    [comments: Publ. pp. 294-303, pl. 1]
  17. (1988) The National Art Collections Fund at the Fitzwilliam Museum, An Exhibition to celebrate The Fund's 85th Anniversary, Cambridge (Cambs.) [page: p. 12] 1988)
    [comments: Publ. p. 12, pls. 16 front & 17 back.]
  18. Giacomotti, Jeanne (1988) Maioliche e porcellane italiane, Milan [page: p. 12]
    [comments: Publ. p. 12]
  19. Benini, Mirella (1989) Cafaggiolo (1498-1540), [page: p. 51]
    Source title: Antichita Viva (1989)
    [comments: Publ. p. 51, pl. 6]
  20. Alinari, Alessandro (1991) The Vulcan painter and the Fall of Phaethon, London [page: p. 85]
    Source title: Italian Renaissance Pottery, Papers written in association with a Colloquium at the British Museum (
    [comments: Publ. p. 85, fig. 11]
  21. Poole, Julia E. (1995) Italian Maiolica and Incised Slipware in the Fitzwilliam Museum Cambridge, Cambridge (Cambs.): Cambridge University Press [page: pp. 133-5]
    [comments: Publ. pp. 133-5, no. 191. Colour Plate 12]
  22. Poole, Julia E. (1997) Fitzwilliam Museum Handbooks, Italian Maiolica, Cambridge (Cambs.): Cambridge University Press [page: 52-3]
    [comments: Publ. pp. 52-3, no. 21]
  23. Piccini, Alberto (2000) La maiolica rinascimentale a Ravenna, [page: p. 28]
    Source title: Arte Viva Fimantiquari, Due Secoli di Maiolica a Ravenna (
    [comments: Publ. p. 28, fig. 17]
  24. Verdi, Richard (2003) Saved! 100 Years of the National Art Collections Fund, London: Scala Publishers [page: 136]
    [comments: Publ. p. 136, no. 63, illustrated]

Other Notes

Accession Number

EC.19-1946 (Applied Arts)
(Reference Number: 48362; Input Date: 2002-05-31 / Last Edit: 2011-02-09)

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