This oval dish moulded in relief has a central subject depicting fecundity, a reclining female nude with five gambolling putti, and the border has decorative ovals containing landscapes and circles containing waist length figures and stylised flowers.

This is one of the rare group of recorded English maiolica 'Fecondite' dishes modelled after a supposed original by the French potter, Bernard Palissy. This particular dish is unusual in that the circular compartments in the border contain heads instead of the usual armorial motifs or initials. It has been suggested that these may portray monarchs (Charles II and James II). Another curious feature is the roughly-drawn head in the foliate rim, apparently in puritan costume, which again may represent Cromwell.


Jonathan Horne.

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