Chalice with Neptune Placating the Winds and Battle Scene

Bottega di Orazio Fontana

Polychrome maiolica istoriato, 20 x 12.5

Inv. 2018

The Galleria Estense, Modena

This chalice, believed to be a cup made for a new mother, has been associated with the Platter with Marriage of Alexander and Roxana (inv. 2019).

Inside, the main scene shows Neptune on a tempestuous sea astride two marine horses whilst vessels with unfurled sails and shipwrecks populate the background. On the outside of the chalice is a battle scene between nude soldiers, both mounted and on foot, featuring a bearded figure with a billowing cape who has also been identified as Neptune.  

The iconographic model for the inner scene can be traced back to Bonasone’s engraving after the drawing by Perino del Vaga (1501-1547) of Neptune Calming the Tempest after Aeneas’ shipwreck, executed for the frescoes at Palazzo Doria in Genoa and now kept at the Louvre Museum.