This candlestick is a re-imagining of the medieval dragon. Done in a Renaissance style, the piece depicts a ghastly creature. It has protruding feminine breasts with sharp claws, feathered wings, a serpent’s tail, a long green mane, front horns where the eyebrows would be, and a reptilian face with tongue hanging out behind her fangs. The dragon has a heavy crown and a shield with a coat of arms. She is terrible to behold. The brilliant array of colors exaggerate this fanciful mythology even further. The monster stands over a tri-portioned bowl with angelic designs on the bottom. This whimsical piece would make a great addition to any collection.
The piece was made by Ulisse Cantagalli c. 1890. Cantagalli, along with his brother, inherited the family ceramics factory near Florence (Fiorenze). The shop produced copies of Middle Eastern and Italian tin-glazed wares and in time added earthenware vases with stylized animal and plant forms. Ulisse was famed for his ruby and golden luster techniques. In the 1880s, with encouragement from Mary Todd, his Scottish fiance, he began exploring the principles of the British Arts and Crafts Movement, particularly in the revival of pre-industrial handcraft traditions. His mark was the cockerel, in some cultures a symbol of generosity, in others a symbol of pride. Cantagalli’s wares were exhibited at many international exhibitions and the British royalty were among his clients.
L: 7 in (17.8 cm)
W: 4 ½ in (11.4 cm)
H: 6 ¼ in (15.9 cm)
c. 1890 Florence Italian Majolica Pottery Dragon Queen Candlestick by Ulisse Cantagalli