An Ivory Talismanic Sculpture of a Little Boy

German

16th Century

Height 17.2 cm ( 7 in)

An ivory sculpture of a male infant holding a whirligig in his right hand and his penis in his left. He is naked except for a rosary around his neck and a bracelet around his upper arm. At his feet lie a small bow, a quiver of arrows and his shield. Images of small boys urinating are sometimes included on birthing trays from this period and stood for fecundity. Research is continuing to ascertain the meaning of the whirligig which is also sometimes featured on the apparatus surrounding childbirth.

Bibliography:
Painting and Illumination in Early Renaissance Florence, 1300 - 1450 by L.B. Kanter Exhib. Cat. Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, 1994
The Art and Ritual of Childbirth, by J.M. Musacchio pub.New Haven, 1999

Condition:
Fingertips of the right hand are restored and the whirligig is a replacement.

1345 / 2729
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