Childbirth Set, ca. between 1560 and 1570

  • Fontana Workshop, Italian, 1500-1700

Tin-glazed earthenware with enamel decoration

  • Overall (cup): 4 × 5 1/2 inches (10.2 × 14 cm) Overall (cup and cover): 4 1/2 × 6 7/8 inches (11.4 × 17.5 cm) Overall: 5 × 8 3/8 inches (12.7 × 21.3 cm)

Founders Society Purchase, Mr. and Mrs. Henry Ford II Fund

59.124.A

On View

  • European: Medieval and Renaissance W231

Department

European Sculpture and Dec Arts

  • Arabesques
  • Women
  • Washing
  • Enamel
  • Tin glaze
  • Ceramic
  • Earthenware
  • Maiolica
  • Figures (representations)
  • Child
  • Birth
  • Christening
  • Bowl (vessel)
  • Urbino

In Renaissance Italy parturition or birthing sets were used to serve nourishing food—such as meat broth—to women confined to bed during pregnancy and after childbirth. These sets generally consisted of five or more pieces, including various bowls, a tray, a saltcellar, and a pierced cover, all of which fit together in a baluster form when not in use. This set, preserving three pieces, is the largest surviving example. The painted decoration on each piece depicts a scene in a bedchamber immediately following birth: bathing, swaddling, and nursing the newborn infant. Lively “grotesques,” typical of the maiolica workshop of Orazio Fontana in Urbino, fill the remaining surfaces.

Baron Nathaniel de Rothschild (Vienna, Austria)

sold by (Rosenberg & Stiebel, New York, New York, USA)

1959-present, purchase by the Detroit Institute of Arts (Detroit, Michigan, USA)

Bojani, G.C. Ceramica Nelle Marche. Bergamo, 1988, p. 131 (ill.). Catalog Nathaniel Rothschld. Vienna, 1903, no. 147. Dennis, Jessie McNab. "Ceramics and Glass." The Triumph of Humanism. Exh. cat., Fine Arts Museum of San Francisco. San Francisco, 1977 (fig. 91). Grigaut, P.L. "Two Pieces of Ceramic." Bulletin of the DIA 38, no. 4 (1958/59): pp. 85-87, p. 86 (ill.). The Triumph of Humanism. Exh. cat., Fine Arts Museum of San Francisco. San Francisco, ca. 1977, pp. 65, 89, no. 165. Musacchio, Jacqueline Marie. The Art and Ritual of Childbirth in Renaissance Italy. ca. 1999, pp. 126-127, no. 116. Musacchio, Jacqueline Marie. Marvels of Maiolica: Italian Renaissance Ceramics from the Corcoran Gallery of Art Collection. 2004, p. 53, no. 39. Bayer, A., et al. Art and Love in Renaissance Italy. Exh. cat. New York, 2008, cat. no. 84a-c, pp. 172-174. Bulletin of the DIA 87, no. 1/4: Italian Renaissance and Later Ceramics (2013): cat. no. 23.

attributed to Fontana Workshop, Childbirth Set, ca. between 1560 and 1570, tin-glazed earthenware with enamel decoration. Detroit Institute of Arts, Founders Society Purchase, Mr. and Mrs. Henry Ford II Fund, 59.124.A.