Earthenware plate showing breast feeding, Italy, 1601-1800

1601-1800 in Italy

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Tin-glazed earthenware plate, showing breast feeding, Italian, 17th or 18th century

Scenes of childbirth and nursing newborns were common in parturition or birthing sets. Originally dating from the 1400s and 1500s in Italy, these highly decorated pieces were used to serve foods to wealthy women during their pregnancy or after childbirth. Childbirth was and still is risky. Birthing sets commemorated a successful pregnancy and birth.

Recent mothers also underwent confinement or lying-in. This normally occurred four to six weeks after birth. She was served food in her chambers probably using a birthing set like this. Images of birth in some sets gave women positive images to concentrate on. Parturition sets consisted of several pieces ingeniously stacked together. This glazed earthenware example shows a mother breastfeeding her child. It forms part of a set with A645207.

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Science Museum: Making the Modern World Gallery

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Nursing & Hospital Furnishings
Object Number:
  • furnishing and equipment
  • container - receptacle
  • dish - vessel

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