An inscription on the reverse of this dish identifies the story—a loyal eagle choosing to die alongside the maiden who raised him—and its source, the Roman author Pliny the Elder. The bystanders on the rim react to the action that would have been entirely covered by food. With the dish empty, we see how the painter cleverly used the convex shape to promote a sense of recession within the scene.
Signature: On back, after inscription: fra[n]: Xanto • A • da Rovigo, i[n] Urbino •
Inscription: On front on tablet: Le cener della [Ver] / gî qui [. . .] [trans.: The ashes of the virgin here]
On back, in blackish-blue enamel: m•d•xxxii• À l’uso antico u[na] [ver]gi[n] corpo arde[n]do / un’Aquila da quel nutrito, anch’ella / volse partecipar dil fuoco horre[n]do. / Nel•X•Libro d[i] Caio Plinio seco[n]do, al / cap: V • / fra[n]: Xanto • A• da Rovigo, i[n] Urbino • [trans.: 1532. In the ancient fashion, a maiden’s body was burning; an eagle that she had cherished also wished to have a part in the horrendous fire. In the Tenth Book of Gaius Plinius Secundus, chapter 5. Francesco Xanto Avelli of Rovigo, in Urbino]