Basin with Deucalion and Pyrrha

Object Details


Basin with Deucalion and Pyrrha


Fontana Workshop

possibly Orazio Fontana (Italian, 1510 - 1571)

or possibly Flaminio Fontana (Italian, active 1571 - 1591)




Urbino, Italy (Place created)


about 1565 - 1575


Tin-glazed earthenware


6.4 x 46.4 cm (2 1/2 x 18 1/4 in.)

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Filled with scented water, basins of this type were offered to dining guests for washing their hands between the courses of a meal. This shallow and splendidly painted example, however, was probably used for display.

The central scene tells the story of Deucalion and Pyrrha from Ovid's Metamorphoses. According to the legend, this husband and wife renewed the human race after a devastating flood by casting stones behind them. The stones assumed human form when they struck the earth.

Orazio Fontana developed a new type of maiolica decoration inspired by Raphael's frescoed rooms in the Vatican, which in turn were inspired by ancient Roman wall paintings. Known as grotesque motifs, these elegant and fantastic embellishments began to cover increasingly large areas of his work until they dominated the decoration, as on this basin.

acquired between 1870 and 1890 - 1900

Baron Adolphe (Carl) de Rothschild, Austrian, 1823 - 1900 (Paris, France), by inheritance to Baron Maurice (Edmond Charles) de Rothschild, 1900.

1900 - 1913/14

Baron Maurice (Edmond Charles) de Rothschild, Austrian, 1881 - 1957 (Paris, France), sold to Duveen Brothers, 1913/1914.

1913/14 - 1965

Duveen Brothers, Inc. (New York, New York), sold to Norton Simon, March 1965.

1965 - 1971

Norton Simon, American, 1907 - 1993 (Los Angeles, California) [sold, Parke-Bernet, New York, 1971, lot 81.]

- 1986

Private Collection (Stuttgart, Germany) [sold, Reimann and Monatsberger, Stuttgart, January 1986.]


Alain Moatti (Paris, France), sold to the J. Paul Getty Museum, 1986.

Italian Renaissance Maiolica from the William A. Clark Collection (March 5 to May 17, 1987)
  • Los Angeles County Museum of Art, (Los Angeles), March 5 to May 17, 1987
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