The iconography as one finds on both birthing trays and the present ivory figure, can be explained by the fact that the act of urinating was likely to be interpreted as a sign of fecundity and prosperity, as an inscription on a wooden tray by Bartolomeo di Fruisino has suggested.
Further symbolic reference points within the present ivory are the shield on the ground next to his feet, the psychical proximity to heraldic devices making a deliberate link between fertility and lineage, and the necklace which hangs from the boy’s neck. This necklace echoes the coral necklaces and bracelets worn by similar figures on birthing objects, which was thought to ward away evil.
L.B. Kanter et al., Painting and illumination in early Renaissance Florence, 1300-1450, exh. cat. Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, 1994; J.M. Musacchio, The Art and Ritual of Childbirth, New Haven, 1999.
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