The J. Paul Getty Museum

Blue and White Dish with a Merchant Ship

Object Details


Blue and White Dish with a Merchant Ship






Cafaggiolo, Tuscany, Italy (Place Created)


about 1510


Tin-glazed earthenware

Object Number:



4.8 × 24.3 cm (1 7/8 × 9 9/16 in.)

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Object Description

The delicate stylized flower and leaf decoration of this plate is called alla porcellana (like porcelain) because it imitates blue and white Chinese porcelain, which was much sought after in fifteenth and sixteenth-century Italy. Because Western potters were unable to create true porcelain until much later, they tried to simulate it with earthenware. The arabesque-like foliage may also have been inspired by Turkish Isnik pottery of the period.

The rim of the plate is decorated with four musical trophies: a harp with sheets of music, a lute with a scroll inscribed MVSICA, a reed pipe and wind blower, and an urn and dulcimer. In the center is a carrack, a broad-beamed merchant ship. The back of the plate is decorated with three curving leafy branches and marked in the center with words that are difficult to read: J[acop]o chafagguolo or In chafagguolo. They indicate that the dish was made in Cafaggiolo, the site of a Medici-sponsored maiolica workshop just outside Florence.

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
L'arte del Vasaio: The Italian Renaissance Potter's Art (February 5, 1991 to January 4, 1992)
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum (Malibu), February 5, 1991 to January 5, 1992
The Arts of Fire: Islamic Influences on the Italian Renaissance (May 4 to September 5, 2004)
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum at the Getty Center (Los Angeles), May 4 to September 4, 2004
Traversing the Globe through Illuminated Manuscripts (January 22 to June 26, 2016)
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum at the Getty Center (Los Angeles), January 22 to June 26, 2016