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Dish

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made in Urbino, Italy

Dish
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This maiolica dish was made in Urbino in Italy perhaps at the Guido di Merline workshop between 1540 and 1550.

The dish is painted in polychrome with Cadmus and the Serpent of Mars. Six soldiers are depicted attacking the serpent in the pool beside a cave. To the right there is a half-hidden corpse, probably one of the soldiers slain by the serpent. To the far right, a soldier hurls a rock at the serpent, and two soldiers (one of them possibly Cadmus) thrust a javelin into it.

Cadmus, whilst founding the city of Thebes, came across the Serpent of Mars, who had killed several Phoenicians. Swearing to avenge their deaths, he overcame the snake in a single combat, first attacking it with a boulder, then a javelin, and finally blocking the serpent's jaws with a spear and pinning him to an oak tree. In this illustration, Cadmus appears to have been helped in his endeavours by his comrades (Ovid, Metamorphoses, III).

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