Plate with Putto and ‘Ardet Aeternum’ Motto

Bottega dei Patanazzi

Urbino, Sixteenth century


Polychrome maiolica, 23 x 3.2cm

This plate was part of the wedding service commissioned by Alfonso II d’Este for his marriage to Margherita Gonzaga in 1579. It was purchased by the Italian State for the Galleria Estense in 2000. The sumptuous wedding banquet service came in at least fourteen different forms. Items from the service are dispersed in numerous museum collections both in Italy and elsewhere and are recognizable from Alfonso’s device: a scroll enclosing flames in the shape of a lyre with the words ‘ARDET/ AETERNVM’. The plates share a decorative framework that combines istoriato characteristics with grotesque decoration. A putto rests beside a river, encircled by delicate grotesque decoration: caryatids holding veils, rampant lions, fantastical birds and harpies with playing dice alternate in a symmetrical formation, evoking a subtle symbolism whose meaning is now lost.