Artist: Giovanni di ser Giovanni Guidi (called Scheggia) (Italian, San Giovanni Valdarno 1406–1486 Florence)
Date: ca. 1449
Medium: Tempera, silver, and gold on wood
Dimensions: Overall, with engaged frame, diameter 36 1/2 in. (92.7 cm); recto, painted surface, diameter 24 5/8 in. (62.5 cm); verso, painted surface, diameter 29 5/8 in. (75.2 cm)
Credit Line: Purchase in memory of Sir John Pope-Hennessy: Rogers Fund, The Annenberg Foundation, Drue Heinz Foundation, Annette de la Renta, Mr. and Mrs. Frank E. Richardson, and The Vincent Astor Foundation Gifts, Wrightsman and Gwynne Andrews Funds, special funds, and Gift of the children of Mrs. Harry Payne Whitney, Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Joshua Logan, and other gifts and bequests, by exchange, 1995
Accession Number: 1995.7
This commemorative birth tray (desco da parto) celebrates the birth of Lorenzo de' Medici (1449–1492), the most celebrated ruler of his day as well as an important poet and a major patron of the arts. Knights extend their hands in allegiance to an allegorical figure of Fame, who holds a sword and winged cupid (symbolizing celebrity through arms and love). Winged trumpets sound Fame's triumph. Captives are bound to the elaborate support. The three-colored ostrich feathers around the rim are a heraldic device of Lorenzo's father, Piero de' Medici. Painted by the younger brother of Masaccio, it was kept in Lorenzo’s private quarters in the Medici palace in Florence.
(reverse of birth tray)
The armorial device is that of Lorenzo de’ Medici’s father, Piero de’ Medici: a diamond ring with three ostrich feathers and a banderole with the motto SEMPER (forever). The device is much worn and the silver is oxidized. Piero de’ Medici married Lucrezia Tornabuoni in 1444 and their first son, Lorenzo, was born in 1449; the two families’ coats of arms are in the upper left and right. The tradition of commissioning circular trays or salvers to commemorate a birth derived from the custom of presenting sweetmeats to the new mother.