Desco da Parto (Birth Tray): Scenes from the Legend of David and Goliath, ca. 1440
Tempera on panel
Museum Purchase, 1998-01
This sumptuous Italian Renaissance birth tray, or desco da parto, commemorated the birth of a child and served an important function in the rituals of Florentine society. Commissioned by the husband, the tray was used to bring sweetmeats and other nourishment to a new mother. Following this ceremonial presentation, the tray became a gift in itself, and would hang in the family home to celebrate the birth. Scenes from the legend of David and Goliath infuse the tray with wishes of courage and bravery for the young child, and his successful future as a civic leader.