A birth tray depicting the infant Moses

1450 - 1500
Italy, Tuscany
tempera and gold on panel
62 x 62 x 3.6 cm

Deschi da Parto, or birth trays, became fashionable in Tuscany in the late quattrocento, forming part of the types of object that were associated with the material culture of childbirth in Italy.  They were used as trays to contain gifts of food and were subsequently hung on the walls as decoration. From the late fifteenth century until the second quarter of the sixteenth century, wooden birth trays were in considerable demand in Siena. They were sometimes commissioned but often also ready-made with subjects appropriate for the occasion. Although less wealthy people were able to get cheaper versions of these objects, this gilded and elaborately painted example was almost certainly owned by a wealthy family.

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Sam Fogg
Art of the Middle Ages