Dish with arms of the Visconti family

Italian, probably Deruta

Not on view

Here, a dragon-headed creature devours a somewhat complacent-looking boy. This startling image, known as the biscione (big serpent), was a heraldic symbol of the ruling family of the duchy of Milan. Filling much of the dish’s central well, it is surrounded by an irregular border of peacock feathers. Two holes in the foot ring allowed the dish to be suspended on the wall, where it would be viewed as a bold statement of Milanese allegiance.

Dish with arms of the Visconti family, Maiolica (tin-glazed earthenware), Italian, probably Deruta

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