The porcelain made at the Medici workshops in Florence was the first to be produced in Europe. Francesco I de’Medici (1541–1587) established a ceramic workshop in the 1560s with the intention of imitation Chinese blue-and-white porcelain. It took approximately ten years of experimentation before the workshop could manufacture the type of porcelain known as soft-paste. While so-called Medici porcelain lacks the ingredients that comprise hard-paste porcelain as made by the Chinese the Medici potters were able to craft a fine white ceramic body with cobalt decoration that represented an outstanding technical achievement for its time. Technically difficult and expensive to make, Medici porcelain was produced in very small quantities, and manufacture is believed to have ceased, or at least significantly diminished with the death of Francesco in 1587. Only fifty-nine pieces of Medici porcelain are known to have survive, of which one-tenth reside in the Museum's collection.
Marking: On reverse, in underglaze blue enamel: [dome of Florence Cathedral] / •F•
perhaps Vincenzo Funghini ; [ C. & E. Canessa , New York, until 1919; sold for $5,454.54 plus war tax, to Schiff ]; Mortimer L. Schiff , New York (1919–d. 1931; to his son, John) May 4, 1946, no. 93, for McMullan); John M. Schiff , New York (1931–46; on loan to MMA 1937–46, on view 1937–41; his sale, Parke-Bernet, New York, May 4, 1946, no. 93; sold for $4,800 to McMullan); Mrs. Joseph V. McMullan (in 1946; given shortly after purchase to MMA in exchange for a Sienese maiolica plate)