This panel and its companion originally formed the front and back of a birth tray (desco da parto). The story they illustrate is from Giovanni Boccaccio's Comedia delle ninfe fiorentine, written about 1342. The hunter Ameto, dressed in red, peers over a hill and then approaches some nymphs, attracted by the singing of Lia. In the background they hunt. The nymphs instruct Ameto in the meaning of love in a later episode of the story. In the other panel Ameto and two nymphs judge a musical competition between the shepherds Alcesto and Acaten. The escutcheon at the right appears to be that of the Di Lupo Parra family of Pisa. The tray dates from about 1410.
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Title:Ameto's Discovery of the Nymphs
Artist:Master of 1416 (Italian, Florentine, early 15th century)
Medium:Tempera on wood
Dimensions:Twelve-sided, 21 1/8 x 22 1/8 in. (53.7 x 56.2 cm)
Credit Line:Rogers Fund, 1926
private collection, Florence; Charles Fairfax Murray, London; [Paul Bottenwieser, Berlin, until 1926; sold to The Met]
Richmond. Virginia Museum of Fine Arts. "Italian Art: Loss and Survival," October 15–November 16, 1947, no catalogue.
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Florentine Paintings in the Metropolitan Museum," June 15–August 15, 1971, no catalogue.
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Art and Love in Renaissance Italy," November 11, 2008–February 16, 2009, no. 68a.
Fort Worth. Kimbell Art Museum. "Art and Love in Renaissance Italy," March 15–June 14, 2009, no. 68a.
Georg Gronau. Letter to Paul Bottenwieser. 1926, calls the two panels deschi da nozze (marriage salvers) from Florence, and dates them to the first part of the fifteenth century.
Paul Schubring. "Two New 'Deschi' in the Metropolitan Museum." Apollo 6 (July–December 1927), pp. 105–7, ill., discusses them as two separate salvers, dates them about 1420, and tentatively ascribes them to the school of Agnolo Gaddi; suggests this painiting may represent Atalanta and Milanion.
Bryson Burroughs. "Two Italian Marriage Salvers." Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin 22 (March 1927), pp. 120–22, ill., believes the two panels illustrate unidentified stories; calls them Florentine and dates them 1410–25; attributes to the same painter another salver now in the Staatliche Galerie, Stuttgart.
Bryson Burroughs. The Metropolitan Museum of Art: Catalogue of Paintings. 9th ed. New York, 1931, p. 186, as Tuscan; calls the two panels marriage salvers "representing the joys of country life".
Bernhard Berenson. Italian Pictures of the Renaissance. Oxford, 1932, p. 9, as "Two Marriage Salvers representing Hunts and Country Sports"; tentatively lists them as late works of the Sienese artist Andrea di Bartolo.
Raimond van Marle. Iconographie de l'art profane au Moyen-Age et à la Renaissance. Vol. 2, Allégories et symboles. The Hague, 1932, p. 431, fig. 458, erroneously as in a private collection; attributes it to the Florentine school of the first decade of the fifteenth century, and calls it a "plateau de maternité"; identifies the subject as "Le Jardin d'Amour".
Bernhard Berenson. Pitture italiane del rinascimento. Milan, 1936, p. 8.
Harry B. Wehle. The Metropolitan Museum of Art: A Catalogue of Italian, Spanish, and Byzantine Paintings. New York, 1940, pp. 20–21, ill., as "A Hunting Scene".
Lionello Venturi. The Rabinowitz Collection. New York, 1945, pp. 19–20, compares it to a marriage salver now in the Yale University Art Gallery.
Frederick Antal. Florentine Painting and its Social Background. London, 1948, p. 372 n. 8, tentatively attributes them to Mariotto di Nardo, and believes the man in this picture is the bridegroom seen in MMA 26.287.1.
Josephine L. Allen and Elizabeth E. Gardner. A Concise Catalogue of the European Paintings in The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, 1954, p. 51.
Bernard Berenson. Italian Pictures of the Renaissance: Central Italian and North Italian Schools. London, 1968, vol. 1, p. 7.
Miklós Boskovits. Letter to Everett Fahy. November 23, 1968, attributes them to the Master of 1416.
Anna Spychalska-Boczkowska. "Diana with Meleagros and Actaeon: Some Remarks on a XV-Century Italian Cassone." Bulletin du Musée National de Varsovie 9, no. 2 (1968), pp. 32–33, fig. 3, attributes it to the circle of Mariotto di Nardo and MMA 26.287.1 to the artist himself; compares them to a cassone panel in the National Museum in Warsaw.
Paul Fraser Watson. "Virtu and Voluptas in Cassone Painting." PhD diss., Yale University, 1970, pp. 35–36, 77–81, 159, 161, 259–61, no. 4, pl. 4, attributes them to an unknown Florentine painter, dates them about 1420, and analyzes their iconography.
Federico Zeri with the assistance of Elizabeth E. Gardner. Italian Paintings: A Catalogue of the Collection of The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Florentine School. New York, 1971, pp. 54–56, ill., as "A Hunting Scene"; call it the obverse from the same salver as MMA 26.287.1 (reverse), and attribute them to the workshop of Lorenzo di Niccolò.
Burton B. Fredericksen and Federico Zeri. Census of Pre-Nineteenth-Century Italian Paintings in North American Public Collections. Cambridge, Mass., 1972, pp. 80, 499, 606, as "A Hunting Scene" from the "school, shop, or studio" of Lorenzo di Niccolò Gerini.
Paul F. Watson and Victoria Kirkham. "Amore e Virtù: Two Salvers Depicting Boccaccio's 'Comedia delle Ninfe Fiorentine' in the Metropolitan Museum." Metropolitan Museum Journal 10 (1975), pp. 35–50, fig. 1, attribute them to Lorenzo di Niccolò and date them about 1410; identify the subject as scenes from the "Commedia delle ninfe fiorentine," an amatory allegory written about 1342 by Giovanni Boccaccio.
Everett Fahy. "On Lorenzo di Niccolò." Apollo 108 (December 1978), p. 381 n. 1, accepts Boskovits' [see Ref. 1968] attribution to the Master of 1416.
Ellen Callmann. "The Growing Threat to Marital Bliss as Seen in Fifteenth-Century Florentine Paintings." Studies in Iconography 5 (1979), p. 76, fig. 3, attributes them to Lorenzo di Niccolò and dates them about 1406.
Paul F. Watson. The Garden of Love in Tuscan Art of the Early Renaissance. Philadelphia, 1979, pp. 95–98, 158 nn. 19, 23, pl. 79.
John Pope-Hennessy and Keith Christiansen. "Secular Painting in 15th-Century Tuscany: Birth Trays, Cassone Panels, and Portraits." Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin 38 (Summer 1980), pp. 6–7, 9, fig. 1 (color), consider them the obverse and reverse of a single birth tray painted by the Master of 1416 in about 1410.
Paul F. Watson. "A Preliminary List of Subjects from Boccaccio in Italian Painting, 1400–1550." Studi sul Boccaccio 15 (1985–86), p. 163, lists them as the recto and verso of one birth salver.
Enrica Neri Lusanna. "Aspetti della cultura tardogotica a Firenze: il 'Maestro del giudizio di Paride'." Arte cristiana 77 (November–December 1989), p. 414, attributes them to the Master of 1416.
Katharine Baetjer. European Paintings in The Metropolitan Museum of Art by Artists Born Before 1865: A Summary Catalogue. New York, 1995, p. 10, ill. p. 11.
Jerzy Miziolek. Soggetti classici sui cassoni fiorentini alla vigilia del Rinascimento. Warsaw, 1996, pp. 95, 104–5, pl. 54, dates them about 1406.
Jerzy Miziolek. "Meleagro, Diana e Atteone su un cassone fiorentino nel Museo Nazionale di Varsavia." Bulletin du Musée National de Varsovie 37, nos. 1–2 (1996), pp. 16, 29, 47, fig. 9.
Cecilia de Carli. I deschi da parto e la pittura del primo rinascimento toscano. Turin, 1997, pp. 23, 72–73, 86–89, no. 12, ill p. 87, colorpl. II, calls them the obverse and reverse of a marriage salver painted about 1400–1425.
Graham Hughes. Renaissance Cassoni, Masterpieces of Early Italian Art: Painted Marriage Chests 1400–1550. Alfriston, England, 1997, p. 232.
Claudia Däubler-Hauschke. Geburt und Memoria: zum italienischen Bildtyp der "deschi da parto". Munich, 2003, pp. 76–77, 82 n. 68, pp. 225–30, no. 20a, fig. 91.
Stefan Weppelmann. "Lorenzo di Niccolò e la bottega del 'Maestro del 1416'." Intorno a Lorenzo Monaco: nuovi studi sulla pittura tardogotica. Ed. Daniela Parenti and Angelo Tartuferi. Livorno, 2007, pp. 116, 120 n. 64, fig. 22, includes it in a group of works that he attributes to the "Bottega del 1416," tentatively identifying this group as the product of a collaboration between Lorenzo di Niccolò's son Piero di Lorenzo and nephew Bartolomeo di Piero; dates it to the final years of the workshop, which ceased production at the beginning of the fourth decade of the fifteenth century.
Jacqueline Marie Musacchio inArt and Love in Renaissance Italy. Ed. Andrea Bayer. Exh. cat., The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, 2008, pp. 151–52, no. 68a, ill. (color), calls them the obverse and reverse of a birth tray, not a marriage tray, which documentary evidence indicates did not exist; adds that "even when trays were presented at marriage, and even when, as in this case, they illustrated complex texts that seem to have no relationship to childbirth, they were considered birth trays by those who made and bought them," calling this "indicative of the close relationship between marriage and childbirth in the Renaissance mind".
Silvia Topi. "Il Maestro del 1416: un personaggio minore del primo Quattrocento fiorentino." Arte cristiana 96 (November–December 2008), pp. 429–30, 436 n. 39, fig. 18.
Old Master Paintings. Christie's, New York. June 8, 2011, p. 36, under no. 37, mentions it in the entry for a triptych of the Madonna and Child attributed to the Master of 1416.
Andrea G. De Marchi. Revelations: Discoveries and Rediscoveries in Italian Primitive Art. Florence, 2013, pp. 124, 161 n. 134.
Adrian W. B. Randolph. Touching Objects: Intimate Experiences of Italian Fifteenth-Century Art. New Haven, 2014, p. 182, fig. 88, refers to it as a birth tray and connects the fountain in the center as well as the shape of the birth tray itself to baptisteries and baptismal fonts.
The Master of 1416 is the name given to the painter of an altarpiece of the Madonna and Child Enthroned with Saints, dated 1416, in the Galleria dell'Accademia, Florence.
This panel and The Met 26.287.1 are the obverse and reverse of a marriage salver. They show episodes from the "Commedia delle ninfe fiorentine," an amatory allegory written about 1342 by Giovanni Boccaccio (see Watson and Kirkham 1975). Here the hunter Ameto peers over a hill and then approaches some nymphs in a thicket, attracted by the singing of Lia.
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