Francesco Xanto Avelli da Rovigo (Italian, ca. 14871542)
Maiolica; Diam. 11 5/8 in. (29.5 cm)
Robert Lehman Collection, 1975 (1975.1.1131)
This splendid plate forms part of a dinner service made for the Pucci family of Florence. Highly distinguished in the first half of the sixteenth century, Pucci family members served under the Medici popes Leo X (r. 151321) and Clement VII (r. 152334). The justly famous Pucci service, produced in 153233, was perhaps the largest commission given the celebrated maiolica painter Xanto Avelli da Rovigo. This particular plate represents Aeneas and his companions at the tomb of Polydorus (Virgil's Aeneid, Book III). The bleeding bush (painted in red luster) signals the presence of the corpse, while the coat of arms of the Pucci family, on an escutcheon surmounting a standard, identifies the patronage.
The Aeneas plate shows Xanto's energetic line and exuberant use of warm colors, often washed into one anotherdeep oranges and yellows against strong greens and blues. The richly decorated piece is made even more magnificent by the Gubbio luster.