Painted by Fra Xanto Avelli da Rovigo (ca. 1486–1582)
Maiolica (tin-glazed earthenware)
Diam. 16 in. (40.6 cm)
The Friedsam Collection, Bequest of Michael Friedsam, 1931
Not on view
The great pottery painter Xanto is here inspired by Pliny's tale of the devotion of an eagle to a young woman: the eagle is ready to immolate itself to be with her even in death. Strikingly, for this classical tale of loyalty and selflessness the artist draws upon the infamous erotic prints known as I modi for motifs, above all for the nude man seen from behind stoking the fire. This example is not the only occasion on which Xanto made a visual reference to this censored group of engravings. The borrowing is of particular interest here as it introduces what was originally an erotic motif onto a plate that is part of a large dinner service made for the Pucci family.
Signature: On back, after inscription: ".fra. Xanto. A. da Rouigo. T/ Urbino."
Inscription: In cartouche on face: "Le cener sellax gi qui..." (indecipherable), on back: ".MDXXXII./ A'l'uso antico u(n) V(er)gi(n) corpo ardedo/ un' Aquila da quel nutrito, anch'ella/ uolse partecipar dil fuoco horredo/ Nel. X. Libro £Caio Plinio secodo, al Cap: V" (trans.: According to the antique custom, the body of a virgin being burned/ an eagle nourished by her also/ wishes to participate in the horrid fire.) (translation on face indecipherable).