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The Judgement of Paris

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The Judgement of Paris


Avelli, Francesco Xanto (painter) [ULAN info: Italian pottery painter, act.1530-1542]

Raimondi, Marcantonio after (printmaker) [ULAN info: Italian artist, 1470/1482-1527/1534]

Caraglio, Giovanni Giacomo after (printmaker)


tin-glazed earthenware






Maiolica shallow dish on low foot. Painted in polychrome with The Judgement of Paris.

Shallow dish on low foot. Pale buff earthenware, tin-glazed overall; the reverse beige and speckled. Painted in blue, green, yellow, orange, stone, brown, manganese-purple, black, and white. Shape 78 with a groove around the edge of the foot. Circular with shallow upturned sides and flat centre, standing on a low foot. The Judgement of Paris. Venus, Juno and Minerva stand beside a gnarled tree on the left, accompanied by Cupid who tugs at Venus' drapery as she extends her left arm to receive the apple of discord from Paris, seated at the base of a rocky cliff on the right. He holds a crook upside down in his left hand and offers Venus the apple with his right. In the foreground there is grass and a tree stump; in the background, the sea shore and a hill town. Suspended from the branch of a tree growing out of the rocks above Paris, there is a shield of Tuscan form bearing the arms vert, a fess or, a chief party per pale gules (shown orange) and argent two rosettes counterchanged flanked by `Eli:' and `PYA'. The edge is yellow.

Production Notes

The figures were derived from three engraved sources, all used repeatedly by Xanto. The goddesses were adapted from Muses in the Contest between the Muses and the Pierides by G.G. Caraglio after Rosso Fiorentino. Paris was adapted from Apollo in Parnassus by Marcantonio after Raphael. Cupid may be a reversed image of the one in the Judgement of Paris by Marcantonio Raimondi after Raphael.

The inscription was taken from Virgil, Aeneid I, lines 26-7

Production Place

Urbino (painter) (place)

The Marches (painter) (region)

Italy (painter) (country)

Italian (painter) (nationality)

Italy (printmaker) (country) ()

Italy (printmaker) (country) ()

Technique Description

Pale buff earthenware, tin-glazed overall; the reverse beige and speckled. Painted in blue, green, yellow, orange, stone, brown, manganese-purple, black, and white.


height: (whole): 5.0 cm
diameter: (whole): 26.0 cm


second quarter of 16th century


circa 1531


bequeathed: Clarke, Louis Colville Gray 1960 (Filtered for: Applied Arts collection)

For the first two possible owners, see Documentation, Poole, 2003, p. 94. Perhaps Girolamo Talpa (1654-1739), San Severino (Marche), and sold by him in 1712 to Cardinal Filippo Antonio Gualtieri (1670-1728); perhaps Charles Jarvis or Jervas (1675-1739) or Sir Andrew Fountaine (1676-1753); by descent to Andrew Fountaine IV; his heir; Christie's, 16 June 1884, Catalogue of the celebrated Fountaine collection of majolika, Henry II ware, Palissy ware, Nevers ware, Limoges enamels . . ., removed from Narford Hall, Norfolk, lot 175; M. Colnaghi. Stephenson Clarke; Louis C.G. Clarke.

L.C.G. Clarke Bequest


  1. Position: on reverse in middle
    Method: inscribed in dark blue
    Content: .1531./Per cui Troia superba fu/combusta/.favola./Fracesco Xanto, Avelli da/Rovigo,i Urbino/Pise.
    Language: Italian
    Translation: For whom proud Troy was burnt. fable. Francesco Xanto Avelli da Rovigo, in Urbino Painted

  2. Position: reverse, on the sides
    Interpretation: The inscription on the back was taken from the Aeneid, I, 26 but the order of the words should read `manet alta mente repositum/iudicium Parides' continuing `spretaeque iniuria formae' which in context is translated `deep in her mind she stored the judgement of Paris and her slighted beauty's wrong'.
    Language: Italian
    Translation: The Judgement of Paris she stored deep in her mind
  3. label
    Method: inscribed in black ink
    Content: 175/An Urbino Dish the/Judgement of Paris, landscape/and buildings, arms/suspended from a tree,/description & date 1531/on back, by F. Xanto -/10 1/4in./Signed Fracesco Xanto/Avelli da Rovigo, Urbino/£57.
    Description: square
    Interpretation: This was copied from the Fountaine sale catalogue, but in the Fitzwilliam's annotated copy the price is given as £63.

  4. Position: on the back
    Method: incised
    Content: 'af' and '30'
    Interpretation: Fountaine Collection mark


  1. Christie, Manson & Woods (1884) Catalogue of the celebrated Fountaine collection of majolika, Henry II ware, Palissy ware, Nevers ware, Limoges enamels, carvings in ivory, hone stone and rock crystal, Greek and Roman coins, ancient armour &c. &c., removed from Narford Hall, Norfolk, London: Christie, Manson & Woods 16-19 June 1884)
    [comments: Publ. lot 175]
  2. Fortnum, C. Maiolica, Oxford [page: p. 216]
    [comments: Publ. p. 216]
  3. Moore, Andrew The Fountaine collection of maiolica, [page: p. 445]
    Source title: Burlington Magazine (June 1988)
    [comments: Publ. p. 445]
  4. Poole, Julia E. (1995) Italian Maiolica and Incised Slipware in the Fitzwilliam Museum Cambridge, Cambridge (Cambs.): Cambridge University Press [page: pp. 331-2]
    [comments: Publ. pp. 331-2, no. 388; for the printed sources, see p. 23, fig. 23, p. 318, fig. 19, and p. 362, fig. 39]
  5. Poole, Julia E. (2003) The Identification of Maiolica from Sanseverino, Faenza [page: 94]
    Source title: Faenza (2003)
    [comments: Publ. p. 94, and pl. IIa and b.]
  6. Mallet, J.V.G. (2007) Xanto, Pottery-Painter, Poet, Man of the Italian Renaissance, London [page: 114-15]
    [comments: Publ. pp. 114-15, no. 33]

Other Notes

The Judgement of Paris is mentioned in several classical sources, including Ovid's Heroides, XVI, 51-88, which could have been known to Xanto in translations by Naso di Compagna, Rome, 1496, and by Domenico da Monticello, Venice, 1508, and Milan, 1518. Paris was herding cattle on Mount Gargarus, when the goddesses Hera, Athene and Aphrodite were brought to him by Hermes with a message from Zeus that he was to award a golden apple to the fairest. Rejecting the bribes offered by Hera and Athene, Paris awarded the apple to Aphrodite, who offered to assist him in gaining the love of Helen, wife of Menelaus King of Sparta, whose beauty was equal to her own.

Accession Number

C.86-1961 (Applied Arts)
(Reference Number: 76242; Input Date: 2002-07-30 / Last Edit: 2011-06-30)

Related Object

MAR.C.60-1912 - The Holy Family

Related Image/s

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