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The Judgement of Paris: C.59-1927

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Object information

Current Location: Gallery 7 (Courtauld)


The Judgement of Paris


Workshop: Durantino, Guido (Probably)
Engraver: Raimondi, Marcantonio (After)




Maiolica dish, painted in polychrome with The Judgement of Paris.

Earthenware, tin-glazed overall; the reverse pale beige. Painted in blue, green, turquoise, yellow, orange, stone, brown, manganese-purple, black, grey, and white. Shape 64. Circular with narrow rim and wide shallow well. The Judgement of Paris. Paris and his dog sit on the left. He hands the apple of discord to Venus who is accompanied by Cupid; Juno with her peacock stands behind them, and to the right is Minerva, who has her back to the viewer and holds up a drape; above, a winged Victory holds a wreath over Venus' head. To the left are three nymphs, including Paris' wife Oenone, and to their right, behind Paris, is Mercury, who is leaving; to the right, three river gods sit or recline beside the River Scamander. In the sky Apollo drives the chariot of the sun through a zodiac arch and on the right, emerging from a bank of clouds, Coelius supports Jove, seated with his eagle beside him and Diana and two other gods behind him. In the landscape background to left are two bulls and a nude woman with a unicorn, and in the distance, buildings and mountain peaks. The edge is yellow. On the reverse, in the middle, an oval shield bears the arms of Farnese impaling Crispi, or six fleurs-de-lis azure placed three, two, and one, impaling azure a unicorn argent on a terrace vert, dipping its horn in a stream, a comet above, surmounted by a cross and cardinal's hat, and flanked by three rows of tassels, with below, the inscription in blue 'SORDENT.PRAE FORM/INGENIVM VIRTVS/REGNA.AURV[M] (GENIUS, VALOUR, DOMINATION AND WEALTH ARE DESPISED IN COMPARISON TO BEAUTY). Yellow bands encircle the outer and inner edges of the rim.


History note: Possibly Charles Jarvis (?1675-1739); his sale, London, 11-20 March 1739 (OS),A catalogue of the most valuable collection of pictures . . . late of . . . Esq., deceased, lot 555. Probably Princess Amelia; possibly Thomas 2nd Vicount Hampden; Viscountess Hampden (d. 1833); sold Christie, Manson, and Christie, 16 and 18 April 1834, A catalogue of the valuable assemblage of Italian Bronzes, magnificent French Furniture, of boule and marqueterie; and rare Oriental and other porcelain . . . , p. 12, lot 68; Lord Eldon, Scotland ?; Richard Ford (1706-1858), Heavitree, near Exeter, before 1850; Captain Ford; Christie's, 31 July 1919, Catalogue of porcelain, objects of art and tapestry from various sources, lot 43; purchased for £399 by Durlacher Bros. on behalf of F. Leverton Harris (1864-1926)

Legal notes

F. Leverton Harris Bequest, 1926

Measurements and weight

Diameter: 45.4 cm
Height: 5 cm

Place(s) associated

  • Urbino ⪼ The Marche ⪼ Italy

Acquisition and important dates

Method of acquisition: Bequeathed (1927) by Harris, Frederick Leverton


16th Century, Mid
Circa 1545 CE - 1550 CE


The Judgement of Paris, engraved by Marcantonio Raimondi after drawings by Raphael, was one of the prints most frequently used as a source by maiolica painters, but was rarely copied in its entirety as it is here. Paris is shown with the goddesses Hera, Athena and Aphrodite (Juno, Minerva, and Venus) who had been brought to him by Hermes with a message from Zeus that he was to award a golden apple to the fairest. Rejecting the bribes of power and wisdom offered by Hera and Athene, Paris awarded the apple to Aphrodite, who offered to assist him in gaining the love of Helen, wife of Menelaus, King of Sparta, whose beauty was equal to her own. The inscription on the back of the dish referring to Paris' choice was also copied from the print.

The arms on the reverse are those of Cardinal Tiberio Crispi (1497-1566), who was promoted to the cardinalate in December 1544 by the Farnese Pope, Paul III (ruled 1534-49). Like many cardinals, Crispi marked his promotion by impaling his arms with those of the Pope, so their presence on the dish indicates a date after December, 1544. Another feature which links the dish to Crispi is the nude woman with a unicorn which the painter inserted into the Judgement in the upper left background. This is believed to be an impresa adopted by Crispi, but might also refer to his links with the Farnese family who had four unicorn imprese, including a unicorn placing its front hooves in a maiden's lap.

School or Style


People, subjects and objects depicted

Components of the work

Decoration composed of high-temperature colours ( metallic oxide colours)

Materials used in production

beige on the back Tin-glaze
buff Earthenware

Techniques used in production

Tin-glazing : Earthenware, tin-glazed overall; the reverse pale beige. Painted in blue, green, turquoise, yellow, orange, stone, brown, manganese-purple, black, grey, and white.

Inscription or legends present

  • Location: On the back
  • Method of creation: Painted
  • Type: Inscription

Inscription present: rectangular paper label

  • Text: Arms of Farnese impaling Crispi/of Rome./For Tiberio Crispi a familiar of/Paul III before his pontificate./created by him Cardinal in 1544/Achp of Amalfi 1547-61 bp of Sabina/& of Sutri when he died 1566
  • Location: On the back
  • Method of creation: Handwritten in black ink
  • Type: Label

Inscription present: circular paper label

  • Text: M 68
  • Location: On the back
  • Method of creation: Handwritten in ?
  • Type: Label

References and bibliographic entries

Related exhibitions

Identification numbers

Accession number: C.59-1927
Primary reference Number: 47187
Old object number: M 68
Stable URI

Audit data

Created: Saturday 6 August 2011 Updated: Tuesday 10 October 2023 Last processed: Tuesday 12 December 2023

Associated departments & institutions

Owner or interested party: The Fitzwilliam Museum
Associated department: Applied Arts

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The Fitzwilliam Museum (2024) "The Judgement of Paris" Web page available at: Accessed: 2024-04-25 01:34:20

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