Cup – The sacrifice of Marco Curzio

Faenza, Pietro Bergantini’s workshop, 1529 maiolica


This cup stands out among the masterpieces of Italian Renaissance maiolica. In the centre is a scene depicting “The Sacrifice of Marcus Curtius”. Legend has it that in 362 BC a chasm opened up in the Roman forum and that the priests interpreted it as a sign of doom unless a human sacrifice was made. The valiant Roman knight threw himself on horseback into the abyss, sacrificing himself “pro patria”, as suggested by the inscription on the marble cippus in the foreground. The cup is embellished with “trophy” and “grotesque” decorations and the foot bears a cartouche that reads: “FATA. IN. FAENZA. I(N). LABOTEGA . DE .M(AESTR)O .PIERE .BERGA(N)TI(N)O. M.CCCCC 1529 adj 17 d(e) zugno”.

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