A Castel Durante 'Istoriato' dish by the 'In Castel Durante Painter' circa 1524-26
Lot 20
A Castel Durante 'Istoriato' dish by the 'In Castel Durante Painter' circa 1524-26
Sold for £60,000 (US$ 100,849) inc. premium
Lot Details
A Castel Durante 'Istoriato' dish by the 'In Castel Durante Painter'
circa 1524-26
the shallow dish on a low foot pierced for suspension, fully painted by the 'In Castel Durante Painter' in istoriato style with a biblical scene of 'Christ at the Well with the Samaritan Woman', the woman drawing water from the classical wellhead, a pitcher by her feet, the seated figure of Christ engaging her in conversation nearby, a colourful landscape receding into the distance, the rim picked out in yellow, 25.7cm diam, numerals 12 and 4 scratched into the glaze on the reverse (rim chip and a fine crack)


  • Provenance: the Fountaine Collection, no. 12, sold at Christie's 16-19 June 1884, first day's sale, lot 12 where it was described as 'A Dish with two figures, Our Saviour and the Woman at the Well, landscape and buildings - 10 and half inches'. The dish can also be seen in the photograph included in the catalogue entitled 'China Closet, Narford Hall', on the top shelf to the right. It was bought for £26.5.0 (together with the following lot) by the London dealer Martin Colnaghi. This most famous of maiolica collections was put together by Sir Andrew Fountaine (1676-1753) and added to by two later descendants, also called Andrew Fountaine. The first Sir Andrew was a classics scholar and was knighted by William III at Hampton Court in 1699. After accompanying Lord Macclesfield to Hanover to announce the Act of Accession to the Elector passed by Parliament in 1701, he travelled on to Italy when his passion for 'Raffaelle's ware' presumably began. A longer trip (of about three years) ensued in 1714. According to Christie's
    'No sooner was Cavaliere Fontana arrived at any great town but all the virtuosi, dealers etc. flocked to him, bringing him their stores and using all their arts and tricks to cheat him; but he had much sagacity, and was so well acquainted with their stratagems as not to be imposed upon by them.'
    The collection was sold following the death of Andrew Fountaine IV in 1873. It was deemed so important that it sparked a correspondence in The Times and prompted the formation of The Syndicate, a group of museum curators and academics funded by public subscription to buy works for the national and other museum collections. A booklet including the prices and buyers, a history of the Fountaine Collection, the details of The Syndicate and reproducing the public correspondence at the time of the sale, was published by Christie's after the event. For a recent review of the sale and its impact on maiolica collecting see Andrew Moore, 'The Fountaine Collection of maiolica', The Burlington Magazine, Vol. CXXX No. 1023, June 1988. Moore reproduces Andrew Fountaine IV's Family Inventory of 1835 in his Appendix I. This dish is given as no. 14 'Woman at a well', while lot 21 is no. 18, 'A man on horseback, others looking into a tomb', op. cit. p. 440. In Appendix II Moore presents a concordance between the Christie's lot numbers and the 'Family Book' compiled between 1855-73 by Andrew Fountaine IV. The scratched numbers on the pieces, 12 for this lot and 115 for the following lot refer to this list. According to Moore's interpretation of the list, this Castel Durante dish was added to the collection by Andrew Fountaine IV, while the Faenza crespina was probably acquired by the first Sir Andrew, that is before his death in 1753.

    This dish is one of a group of works attributed to the painter known as the 'In Castel Durante Painter' as he signed several recorded pieces in this way. For a full list of the signed pieces, all of which are dated between 1524-26, see Timothy Wilson, Italian Maiolica of the Renaissance, (Milan 1996), p. 174.