Past Exhibition: Exuberant Grotesques

Renaissance Maiolica from the Fontana Workshop

September 15, 2009 to January 17, 2010
large dish painted with scene of mythological figures, ringed in white with decoration

Although it was not until 2008 that the first piece of maiolica entered The Frick Collection, it was an extraordinary debut: a large dish painted with a narrative scene, oristoriato, inspired by Marcantonio Raimondi's print after The Judgment of Paris by Raphael. This scene is surrounded by colorful grotesques delicately painted on a white ground, a specialty of the renowned workshop of Orazio Fontana in Urbino, to which the best pieces are usually attributed.

This acquisition — a gift to The Frick Collection by Dianne Dwyer Modestini in memory of her husband, Mario Modestini — was the inspiration for a small focus exhibition on the Fontana workshop's highly decorative maiolica painted with delicate grotesques on a whitened ground. The Frick Collection's piece was shown along with five related works on loan from The Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Philadelphia Museum of Art.

The exhibition illustrated the technical and artistic excellence reached in the Fontana workshop in the third quarter of the sixteenth century. This presentation of pieces of different shapes provided an opportunity for visitors to view the richness of table services made in maiolica for the Renaissance aristocracy.

The exhibition was organized by Andrew W. Mellon Curatorial Fellow Charlotte Vignon and was accompanied by a scholarly catalogue, including detailed entries and an essay on the history of collecting Renaissance maiolica.

Maiolica dish with The Judgment of Paris after Raphael, Fontana workshop, ca. 1565. Tin-glazed earthenware. The Frick Collection; gift of Dianne Dwyer Modestini in memory of Mario Modestini

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