Crespina Dish (Coppa) with Apollo and Daphne

Giovanni Battista dalle Palle

Polychrome maiolica istoriato, 26 x 5cm

Inv. 1997

The Galleria Estense, Modena

On the inside of this umbonate, ribbed crespina dish, the scene unfolds in a riverside landscape: a nude Daphne flees from Apollo down a path, her billowing robe gathered on her right shoulder, she morphs  into a tree just as the God is about to grab her. Apollo is portrayed in a ceremonial cuirass, cape and sandals. Above them flies Eros, posed to shoot his arrow of love towards the fleeing nymph. On the inside of the base a description in vernacular Italian is painted in light brown: ‘Dafne/ e Apolo’. Drawn from Ovid’s Metamorphosis (Book I, 548-567), this subject derives its iconographyalthough with some variationfrom a burin engraving by the Master of the Die (active between 1532 and 1550) of which a similar example is kept in the Gabinetto delle Stampe at the Pinacoteca Nazionale in Bologna (inv. M193/1043). Mythological themes (like their historical counterparts) drawn from literary works of classical antiquity were greatly admired by patrons in the courts of Italy and were commissioned in various artistic formats.