Magnificent Majolica: Kirkby’s Mantegna

“Magnificent Majolica” is a bimonthly series where we focus on the opulence and exuberance of the Archive’s majolica designs. Every other month we’ll highlight one or more artworks from our special Art & Design folio as detailed images, galleries, or interactive comparisons. If you’d like to find out more about majolica and why it is synonymous with Minton you can do so through our In Depth introduction to the series.

9 Water Colour Drawings, A. Mantegna copied by T. Kirkby from the original paintings, G9 to G17

The 1871 Art Catalogue lists our highlighted artwork – marked “G13” – as having been copied by Minton artist Thomas Kirkby from works by the Italian Renaissance painter Andrea Mantegna. The scene depicted in G13 is taken from the ninth and final canvas in Mantegna’s famous series of paintings known as the Triumphs of Caesar, though whether it’s just a coincidence that Kirkby also produced nine copy drawings will have to remain a mystery for now – unfortunately G13 is the only drawing from the G9-G17 group to be found in the Majolica Box. (Naturally we’ll be keeping our eyes open for the other artworks whenever we venture into the Art & Design folios!)

However if, as the Art Catalogue suggests, Kirkby created his watercolour copies from the “original paintings” then this numeric connection would make sense, not least because the Triumphs of Caesar have been hung together in Hampton Court Palace since the 1600s. Had Kirkby been in a position to see the original from which G13 was created the assumption is that he would have been able to view the other canvasses alongside it too.

View the source artwork for the highlights above