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Decorative Serving Bowl from the Royal Banquet Service of Isabella d’ Este of Mantua

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Nicolò da Urbino (ca. 1480-1540/1547)1519Castel Durante, ItalyMaiolica, a type of tin-glazed pottery

This vibrant and colourful decorative serving bowl was originally a part of the famous royal banquet service of Isabella d’Este, Marchioness of Mantua (1474-1539), and represents the zenith of Italian maiolica-production. The coat of arms belonging to the alliance of the Gonzaga and Este families at the centre and encrypted emblems refer to Isabella d‘ Este. Through her role as a patron and collector of art, she became one of the most noteworthy women during the Renaissance. The depiction of the gathering of Manna from the book of Exodus mirrors Raphael’s (1483-1520) famous fresco in a loggia at the Vatican in Rome. Maiolica -services decorated the royal tables and were displayed on credenzas for decorative purposes. Mythological and biblical scenes served both as moral examples and reflected the humanist philosophy of the time.