Philadelphia Museum of Art - Collections Object : Dish with Grotesques and Putti

Dish with Grotesques and Putti

Artist/maker unknown, Dutch

Made in Delft, Netherlands, Europe


Tin-glazed earthenware with blue decoration

1 5/8 x 14 1/4 inches (4.1 x 36.2 cm)

Curatorial Department:
European Decorative Arts and Sculpture

Object Location:

Currently not on view

Accession Number:

Credit Line:
Gift of Mrs. Edward Bok, 1936

Social Tags [?]

blue [x]   putti [x]  

[Add Your Own Tags]

The color of this dish shows the influence of Chinese blue-and-white porcelain of the Ming dynasty (1368–1644), which became popular in Delft in the early seventeenth century. However, its decorative motifs, like the putti (winged infant boys) and grotesques (fantastic human and animal figures) recall Italian Renaissance models.

Additional information:
  • PublicationDelft Ceramics at the Philadelphia Museum of Art

    The decoration of this dish features Renaissance motifs such as putti, grotesques, and the so-called ferronnerie ornament that resembles wrought-iron work. The center contains a landscape with a putto shooting an arrow, framed by vibrant blue circular borders. The winged cherubs on the top and bottom and the winged creatures on the outer and inner borders manifest the grotesque style, characterized by fanciful human and/or animal forms amid tendrils of foliage. This type of decoration had been used since antiquity and, during the second half of the sixteenth century, was painted on Italian maiolica, which Dutch decorators no doubt had seen. On this plate, the dense ornamentation covers the surface more solidly than on Italian ware.

    In the early seventeenth century, when Delft pottery began to be influenced by imports of Chinese blue and white porcelain of the Ming Dynasty (1368 - 1644) transported by the Dutch East India Company, Delft potters ceased emulating the once-popular, multicolored Italian maiolica and adapted their colors to the new fashion.

    The double border on the reverse of this dish conforms to the decorated border on the front. The glaze on the reverse is pinkish white. The foot rim has two original holes used to hang it and another one drilled later, showing that the dish was used as decoration, not as tableware. Ella B. Schaap, from Delft Ceramics at the Philadelphia Museum of Art (2003), p. 28.