Wine Cistern

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Francesco Durantino
Italian, active 1543-1553

Wine Cistern, 1553

Tin-glazed earthenware (maiolica)
53.3 x 26.7 cm (21 x 10 1/2 in.)
Mary Waller Langhorne Endowment, 1966.395

Cisterns were used to cool wine bottles and were often the centerpieces of elaborate table settings. This celebrated work depicts two famous battle scenes—one is Christian, the other is pagan. On the exterior, the Battle of Constantine has been adapted from the frescoes by Raphael’s followers in the Vatican. Inside, the destruction of Aeneas’s ships by the jealous goddess Juno is playfully designed to be viewed through the water that cools the wine. The vessel is made of tin-glazed earthenware known as maiolica.

— Permanent collection label

Exhibition, Publication and Ownership Histories

Exhibition History

Chicago, The Art Institute of Chicago, Renaissance Decorative Arts from Chicago Collections, March 2 – June 14, 1987.

Chicago, The Art Institute of Chicago, A Case for Wine, July 11 - September 20, 2009, no catalogue.

Publication History

Albert Jacquemart, History of the Ceramic Art (London, 1877), p. 294.

C. Drury Fortnum, Maiolica (New York, 1877), p. 151.

William Chaffers, Marks and Monograms on Pottery and Porcelain (London, 1886), pp. 84, 87.

C. Drury Fortnum, Maiolica, A Historical Treatise (Oxford, 1896), p. 235.

M. L. Solon, Italian Maiolica (London, 1907), p. 104.

Emil Hannover, Pottery and Porcelain, vol. 1 (New York, 1925), p. 130.

Bernard Rackham, Catalogue of Italian Maiolica, Victoria and Albert Museum, vol. 1 (London, 1940), p. 284.

Joseph Chompret, Majolique Italienne, vol. 1 (Paris, 1949), p. 150.

Giuseppe Liverani, Five Centuries of Italian Majolica (New York, 1960), p. 49.

Vivian J. Scheidemantel, “An Italian Majolica Wine Cooler,” Art Institute of Chicago Museum Studies 3 (1968), pp. 42-62 (ill.).

John Fleming and Hugh Honour, Dictionary of the Decorative Arts (New York, 1977), p. 305, and dust jacket image.

Andrew Moore, "Documents for the History of Collecting: 5, The Fountaine Collection of maiolica," Burlington Magazine 130 (1988), p. 447.

Rudolf Distelberger, et al, The Collections of the National Gallery of Art, Western Decorative Arts, Part I: Medieval, Renaissance, and Historicizing Styles including Metalwork, Enamels, and Ceramics (Washington, 1993), pp. 223-24.

Timothy Wilson, “The Maiolica-Painter Francesco Durantino: Mobility and Collaboration in Urbino ‘isoriato’” in Italienische Fayencen der Renaissance: Ihre Spuren in internationalen Museumssammlungen, ed. Silvia Glaser. Wissenschaftliche Beibände zum Anzeiger des Germanischen Nationalmuseums, 22 (Nuremberg, 2004), pp. 128-129, 131, figs. 32-34.

Dora Thornton and Timothy Wilson, Italian Renaissance Ceramics, a catalogue of the British Museum collection , vol. 2 (London, 2009), pp. 422, under no. 247.

Ian Wardropper and Lynn Springer Roberts, European Decorative Arts in The Art Institute of Chicago, (Chicago, 1991), pp. 18, 20, 24 (ill.).

Ownership History

Possibly acquired by Sir Andrew Fountaine (1676-1753) in Italy in the early eighteenth century and passed to his heirs by descent [Scheidemantel, 1968, p. 52]. Andrew Fontaine (d. 1873), Narford Hall, Norfolk; by descent to heirs [according to C. Drury Fortnum, Maiolica (Oxford,1896), p. 77]; sold, London, Christie's, 1884, no. 389, to Galerie Stettiner, Paris, for £336 {according to annotated copy of sales catalogue in the British Museum, referenced by Scheidemantel, 1968, p. 58]. Baron Eugen Miller von Aichholz (b. 1835 - d. 1919), Palast Aichholz, Vienna, before 1900 (his sale, Paris, Galerie Georges Petit, May 18-22, 1900, no. 101). Fernand Adda (d. 1964), Alexandria and later Paris and Rome; his sale, Paris, Palais Galliera, November 29-December 3, 1965, no. 601; sold to Edward R. Lubin Gallery, New York [according to letter in curatorial file]; sold to the Art Institute, 1966 [according to receipt in Registrar's files].