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Work Dish: portrait of Federico II da Montefeltro, Duke of Urbino

Department of Decorative Arts: Renaissance

Bowl: portrait of Federico da Montefeltro, Duke of Urbino, after a medal by Pietro Torrigiani

© 1991 RMN / Daniel Arnaudet

Decorative Arts

Ducrot Brigitte

The relief decoration consisting of repeated plant motifs on the horizontal border and the red luster tone make this dish characteristic of the faience with metallic lustering made in Gubbio (Umbria, Italy) during the first third of the sixteenth century. The centre features a posthumous portrait of Federico (1422-82), Count of Montefeltro and Duke of Urbino, condottiere and great Renaissance patron.

Gubbio metallic lusterware

After Spain, lusterware was made in Italy from the early sixteenth century onward. It was a specialty in two Umbrian towns, Deruta and Gubbio. Master Giorgio Andreoli (circa 1465-1553), better known as Master Giorgio, installed in the latter town with his two brothers from 1498 onward, made for some fifty years ceramics featuring ruby-red luster, "rosso di maiolica," a unique color of its kind. This luster is achieved by using metal oxides (copper and silver) and special firing conditions. The final appearance sought is one of colored reflections changing with the light and reminiscent of gold.

Mass production

The dish is representative of the pieces made in the first third of the sixteenth century, a time when much lusterware was sold. Dishes were made in large numbers and the borders were almost always decorated with simple, repetitive molded motifs, in this case oak leaves alternating with curved foliage surmounted with red fruits. This mass-produced ware no longer bore the Andreoli pottery mark and was rarely dated.

The portrait of a great patron

The central portrait stands out against a blue ground dotted with gold and crossed diagonally by a banner bearing the inscription "dux urbin" (Duchy of Urbino). It is identified as being the left profile of Federico (1422-82), Count of Montefeltro and Duke of Urbino from 1474. It is a posthumous portrait with fairly summary treatment after a medal by the Florentine sculptor Pietro Torregiani (1472-1528). The Duchy of Urbino (to which Gubbio belongs) was particularly prosperous under the reign of this illustrious figure of humanist culture.


Giacomotti Jeanne, Catalogue des majoliques des musées nationaux: musées du Louvre et de Cluny, Musée national de céramique à Sèvres, Musée Adrien-Dubouché à Limoges, Paris, Éditions des Musées nationaux, 1974, n 222.

Louvre. Guide du visiteur. Les Objets d'art. Moyen-Age et Renaissance, Paris, Éditions de la Réunion des Musées nationaux, 1994, p. 114.

Technical description

  • Gubbio (c. 1530-40)

    Bowl: portrait of Federico da Montefeltro, Duke of Urbino, after a medal by Pietro Torrigiani

  • Lustreware

    Diam. 21.50 cm

  • Former Durand collection; acquired in 1825 , 1825

    MR 2286

  • Decorative Arts

    Richelieu wing
    1st floor
    Gallery of The Hunts of Maximilian
    Room 507

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