Clifford, Timothy. Polidoro and English Design. Connoisseur. August 1976, vol. 192. pp. 282-291.
After a vase painted by Polidoro da Caravaggio on the Palazzo Milese, Rome, probably by way of an etching published by G.B. Galestruzzi in 1658.
Vase of soft-paste porcelain, painted with enamels, and with an oviform body and two loop handles in the form of a dolphin issuing from a lion's leg which rests on a sheep's head, made by Derby Porcelain factory, Derby, 1773-1774.
Vase of soft-paste porcelain, painted with enamels, and with an oviform body decorated round the shoulder on each side with a grotesque mask flanked by lions above a band of conventional ornament below which are rosettes and festoons of foliage, with two loop handles in the form of a dolphin issuing from a lion's leg which rests on a sheep's head, and the upper part and the short expanding neck are spirally fluted, and a high foot is decorated with acanthus-foliage, supported on a square plinth, and decorated in relief and reserved in white on a turquoise-blue ground.
The design is taken from a print by G.B. Galestruzzi, published in 1658 and based on Decoration by Polidoro da Caravaggio (born in Bergamo, Italy, 1490, died after 1535)
The decoration of this vase was left unfinished, probably because of a minor flaw (other vases of this shape have gilding). The vase was probably purely ornamental and intended to be displayed on a mantelpiece or other domestic furnishing. A Derby auction catalogue of 1773 states that 'Antique' vases were 'particularly adapted for the Decoration of Chimney Pieces, Cabinets, Toilets. &c.' This particular vase, however, is too large for a glazed cabinet or lady's dressing table.
Design & Designing
The market for vases in the 'antique' style grew rapidly in the late 1760s, as the Neo-classical style gained ground. The demand for them was so great that, in addition to copying genuine Greek and Roman antiquities, manufacturers copied vase designs, usually prints, of the 16th to 18th centuries. This vase reproduces one that the 16th-century Italian artist Polidoro da Caravaggio painted on the facade of the Palazzo Milesi in Rome in the 1520s. Derby's immediate source for the design was probably a print by Giovan Battista Galestruzzi (born 1618; died after 1681). Engravings after 'Polydoro' are listed in an inventory of prints owned by the Derby factory in 1791. Polidoro's fantastic vase designs were also copied by the painter Sir Joshua Reynolds (1723-1792), who used them as background devices in his portraits.