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Caesar crossing a river in a boat: C.180-1991

An image of Broad-rimmed bowl

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Object information

Current Location: Gallery 27 (Glaisher)


Caesar crossing a river in a boat


Workshop: Bettisi, Leonardo di Antonio




Renaissance maiolica broad-rimmed bowl, painted in blue, yellow and orange with Caesar crossing a river in a boat.

Earthenware, tin-glazed overall. Painted in blue, yellow, and orange. Shape approximately 59. Circular with a broad sloping rim and deep well.
Caesar crossing a River in a Boat. Caesar is seated in a boat rowed with one oar by a boatman. In the foreground are waves and in the background a riverbank and hills. In the sky is an oval shield charged with the arms of the Wittelsbach Dukes of Bavaria surmounted by a coronet. At the bottom of the rim there is a rectangular panel inscribed, `solitariamentae Cesare/pasa' il fiume' chentra/nel mare tra Gaeta e'tara/cina [?]'(alone Caesar crosses the river which enters the sea between Gaeta and Taracina [?]). A narrow blue band, and a yellow band between two orange, encircle the rim. The back is inscribed in the middle in brownish-orange `.DO.PI.'.


History note: Henry Scipio Reitlinger (d.1950); the Reitlinger Trust, Maidenhead, from which transferred in 1991.

Legal notes

Bequeathed by Henry Scipio Reitlinger, 1950; transferred from the Reitlinger Trust, 1991.

Measurements and weight

Diameter: 24.8 cm
Height: 5.1 cm

Place(s) associated

  • Faenza ⪼ Emilia-Romagna ⪼ Italy

Acquisition and important dates

Method of acquisition: Bequeathed (1991-04-29) by Reitlinger, Henry Scipio


16th Century, Late
Production date: circa AD 1576


This dish bears the arms of the Wittelsbach dukes of Bavaria and formed part of a service which belonged to Albrecht V (1528; ruled as duke, 1550-79). The service was probably made in 1576, the date on one of the dishes. The original extent of the service is unknown, but an inventory of 1751 mentioned 116 pieces, and 108 are known today. Most of the service remains in Munich in the Residenzmuseum, and the Bayerisches Nationalmuseum. Two dishes are in the Musée nationale de Céramique, Sèvres, and two in the Fitzwilliam Museum, and one in the Petit Palais, Paris, the Germanisches Nationalmuseum, Nuremberg, the Museum für Kunst und Gewerbe, Hamburg, and the Museo Internazionale delle Ceramiche, Faenza. Twp pilgrim flasks are in a private collection. The most detailed, and fully illustrated description of the service and its historical background was published in 2009 (see the Documentation). The service is decorated in compendiario (summary or sketchy) style with scenes from the Bible, classical mythology, and Roman history. The inscription on this dish describes the scene as 'alone Caesar crosses the river which enters the sea between Gaeta and Taracina' [?] .The subject has not been satisfactorarily explained. Timothy Wilson identified the subject as probably Caesar attempting to cross the Adriatic in a small boat, from Appian, Civil Wars, II, 9, or rather being rowed down the river Alor or Apsus before being driven back by the wind and waves at its mouth. However, this event took place on the eastern shore of the Adriatic, while Gaeta is on the west side of Italy, north of Naples. The second place mentioned was probably Tarracina (Terracina), situated north of Gaeta on the Appian Way which led to Brindisi on the Adriatic. This is puzzling because, although a few streams enter the sea between the two towns, and there are two lakes inland, there are no large rivers in the area.

School or Style


People, subjects and objects depicted

Components of the work

Decoration composed of high-temperature colours ( blue, yellow, and orange)

Materials used in production


Techniques used in production

Tin-glazing : Earthenware, tin-glazed overall. Painted in blue, yellow, and orange.

Inscription or legends present

Inscription present: circular wih serrated edge

  • Text: 353
  • Method of creation: Handwritten in pencil
  • Type: Label

Inscription present: in a rectangular panel

  • Text: solitariamentae Cesare/pasa' il fiume' chentra/nel mare tra Gaeta e'tara/cina [?]
  • Location: At the bottom of the rim
  • Method of creation: Painted in blue
  • Type: Inscription
  • Text: .DO.PI.
  • Location: On the back
  • Method of creation: Inscribed in brownish-yellow
  • Type: Inscription

References and bibliographic entries

Related exhibitions

Identification numbers

Accession number: C.180-1991
Primary reference Number: 80732
Stable URI

Audit data

Created: Saturday 6 August 2011 Updated: Tuesday 6 February 2024 Last processed: Tuesday 6 February 2024

Associated departments & institutions

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

Citation for print

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The Fitzwilliam Museum (2024) "Caesar crossing a river in a boat" Web page available at: Accessed: 2024-06-15 23:33:07

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