Bowl from a birth set with birth scene and Diana and Actaeon

Artist: Perhaps the "Milan Marsyas" Painter

Artist: In collaboration with Fra Xanto Avelli da Rovigo (ca. 1486–1582)

Date: ca. 1530–32

Culture: Italian, Urbino

Medium: Maiolica (tin-glazed earthenware)

Dimensions: Overall: 3 3/4 × 7 1/8 in. (9.5 × 18.1 cm)

Classification: Ceramics-Pottery

Credit Line: Samuel D. Lee Fund, 1941

Accession Number: 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.