Thursday, December 1, 2011

16th century Italian childbirth bowl

Childbirth Bowl (Scodella) with a Confinement-Chamber Scene (interior) and Landscape (exterior); Childbirth Tray (Tagliere) with a Confinement-Chamber Scene (top) and a Cupid (bottom), Urbino (?), Francesco Durantino, mid-1540s, tin-glazed earthenware (maiolica)

Bowl height is 3 3/4 in., Diam. 6 7/8 in.; Tray is 3/8 in.high, Diam. 8 3/4 in.

Philadelphia Museum of Art

Although this childbirth bowl and tray are not signed and dated, they are most likely the work of the well-documented maiolica painter Francesco Durantino. The tray fits onto the footed bowl, held in place by its inner lip. Both the interior of the bowl and the top of the tray depict a bedchamber following the birth of a child but with some interesting variations. On one, the mother is in bed with her infant, and a well-dressed man is close at hand. His presence is curious since after a birth the chamber was usually the exclusive domain of women—midwives, attendants, and female relatives.

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