Stein Collectors International
Featured Stein ~ July 2019

An 18th Century Capodimonte Stein......
                           by Randy Satterfield, Dixie Steiners

The original capodimonte (top of the mountain) was a royal factory founded by King Charles VI in Naples in 1743. When Charles inherited the throne of Spain on the death of his brother in 1759 he basically moved the factory there where it continued until 1771. In 1771 Ferdinand I, Charles’ son, established a new royal factory in Naples which continued until 1806 (I've also seen dates of 1817 and 1834 but 1806 seems most likely). What made the capodimonte pieces so desirable was the use of soft paste porcelain which was more difficult to fire than hard paste but yielded better results.

The original factory used a blue Fleur de Lis mark on the bottom, the Spanish factory used a slight variation on this mark. The second royal factory in Naples used a blue crown over N mark. After the second Naples factory closed various porcelain makers in Italy and Germany began using the crown over N mark and variations of it. More modern pieces may also be marked “Capodimonte” in script or even have a sticker. These later imitations were of wildly varying quality.  There is no evidence that any of the original royal factories ever produced steins. So any steins marked Capodimonte can be assumed to be one of the later imitation factories, and they should be referred to as capodimonte style steins. The base of this example is marked with a blue-stamped crown-over-N mark, which is blurry to begin with and difficult to photograph.

This stein was depicted side-by-side with Mettlach #2440 in the June 1974 issue of Prosit in a photo provided by J. Joseph Hersh, M.D. It was referred to in the photo caption as "a nineteenth century Capo-di-Monte type stein." Dr. Hersh did further research into the Capo-di-Monte history, and his article on "Capo-di-Monte Drinking Vessels appeared in the September 1975 issue of Prosit. By that point correspondence with the Doccia (Ginori) Museum identified the stein as "one of their earliest mid-18th century steins.

This stein is one of the better examples of the style and very typical. It features wrap around relief of what appears to be an orgy scene followed by a hunt scene. (There is likely to be much nudity any time Bacchus appears.) The lid has a character porcelain insert with a finial of Bacchus, he holds his thyrsus in his right hand and a raised cup in his left, and he is seated upon a leopard skin. The handle is also a character of a mermaid. The lid and fittings are brass with a pewter thumblift. The interior of the stein body and lid are gilded. The capacity appears to be about one liter. A very busy stein as is often the case but interesting and very attractive.

Bacchus is frequently used as a lid finial on these steins, a lion's head is also common. Bacchus is the name adopted by the Romans for the Greek god Dionysus. The corrupted rituals of the Bacchanalia became a form of protest to common law and morality in Rome and were heavily suppressed by the Senate. This version of the god and this particular form of worship is what most associate with Bacchus or Dionysus today. Depictions of Bacchus became common in art during the Italian Renaissance.

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