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workshop of Apollonio di Giovanni and workshop of Marco del Buono, Birth Tray: The Triumph of Love

Key facts
Full title Birth Tray: The Triumph of Love
Artist workshop of Apollonio di Giovanni and workshop of Marco del Buono
Artist dates 1415/17 - 1465; about 1403 - after 1480
Date made probably about 1453-5
Medium and support Egg tempera on wood
Dimensions 61.8 × 62.1 cm
Acquisition credit Presented by Henry Wagner, 1924
Inventory number NG3898
Location Not on display
Collection Main Collection
Birth Tray: The Triumph of Love
workshop of Apollonio di Giovanni and workshop of Marco del Buono

Pictures of this size and shape – it has 12 sides – were known as deschi da parte (or birth trays), and were common in fifteenth-century Florence. Originally made to bring food to a woman during labour, they later became symbolic gifts to celebrate marriage or childbirth.

They were, like this one, lavishly decorated, usually with non-religious images. This painting illustrates a poem by the fourteenth-century Italian poet Petrarch, which describes ‘The Triumph of Love’. Love is represented as a naked, winged young man riding a chariot, ready to strike the crowd below with his arrows, which would make them fall in love.

Coats of arms decorate the reverse of the tray – those of the couple for whom it was made. The woman was a member of the del Zaccheria family. The heron that dominates the reverse might be a pun on her husband’s name, Arditi: ardea means heron in Italian.

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