Childbirth bowl (scodella) with confinement–chamber scene (interior) and Diana and Actaeon (exterior), ca. 1530s
Circle of Francesco Xanto Avelli da Rovigo (Italian, ca. 14871542)
Tin–glazed earthenware (maiolica); H. 3 3/4 in. (9.5 cm), Diam. 7 1/8 in. (18.1 cm)
Samuel D. Lee Fund, 1941 (41.49.2)
This scodella, or footed bowl, once formed the base of a childbirth set. A domestic scene in a bedchamber following a birth is painted on the interior of the bowl. The story of Diana and Actaeon from Ovid's Metamorphoses (III:138–252) is played out across the bowl's circumference, set against a lush background. Several of the figures are based on famous prints by Marcantonio Raimondi after Raphael. Fascinatingly, the reclining nude mother on the interior of the bowl is based on one of Marcantonio's engravings of sexual positions, or I modi. Given the systematic destruction of these images in the sixteenth century, it remains doubtful that Xanto's clients would have been privy to the source of this female nude.