The J. Paul Getty Museum

Pilgrim Flask with Marine Scenes

Object Details


Pilgrim Flask with Marine Scenes


Fontana Workshop
possibly Orazio Fontana (Italian, 1510 - 1571)




Urbino, Italy (Place Created)


about 1565–1570


Tin-glazed earthenware

Object Number:



43.5 cm (17 1/8 in.)

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Object Description

The design of this ceramic pilgrim flask, with its tall tapering neck, screw cover, and flat oval body, reflects the influence of metal pilgrim flasks, which in turn were patterned after the dried gourds travelers used to carry drinking water. The side loops above the horned masks on the sides and the holes cut from either side of the base would never have been used to suspend the Museum's flask; they were retained as decoration and a reminder of the vessel's earlier function.

Marine scenes decorate both sides of the flask: one of a triton abducting a nereid and one of two fighting tritons. This exceptionally rich and varied palette is typical of ceramics from the Fontana workshop. The son of a famous potter from Castel Durante, Orazio Fontana started his own workshop in 1565 in Urbino, helping to establish that area as the most important place for maiolica production in the late 1500s.

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