Tin-glazed earthenware fragment comes from an early Italian maiolica ‘istoriato’ dish – £4600 at Clarke’s.

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A section of border measuring 3¼ x 4½in (8 x 12cm), it depicts the figure of a bull with other animals in the background.

This finished piece would have been decorated in the district of Urbino, c.1530, when pottery painters such as Francesco Xanto Avelli da Rovigo (c.1486-c.1542) were enjoying both notoriety and princely commissions from the Italian and European nobility.

Typically, the narrative scenes they painted were sourced directly from prints after contemporary Renaissance paintings.

A complete dish of this calibre would doubtless command a price in excess of £100,000 – but what price this small sherd? At Clarke’s Auctions (25% buyer’s premium) in Shaftesbury, Dorset, on October 10 it sailed past its £70-100 estimate to bring £4600.