Wine Cistern

Orazio Fontana

Italian, ca. 1510 - 1576

Wine Cistern, ca. 1565 - 1575

  • On View

Tin-glazed earthenware

Dimensions: 14 × 22 in. (35.6 × 55.9 cm)

Gift of Mrs. Viola E. Bray, 2005.155

This wine cistern depicts a mock naval battle that Julius Caesar staged in 46 BCE to celebrate his victories during the Roman Civil War. It may be related to an earlier set of vessels known as the Spanish Service, commissioned by Guidobaldo della Rovere, Duke of Urbino, between 1560 and 1562, as a gift to Phillip II of Spain (r. 1554–1598). This set was decorated with scenes from the life of Julius Caesar.This wine cistern was made in Orazio Fontana’s workshop, which was known for its tin-glazed earthenware, called maiolica. In addition to its aesthetic presence, this cistern had a practical use: when the vessel was filled with cold water, wine bottles were set in it to be kept chilled.

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