This object is a very elaborate and decorative example of Renaissance metalwork used by wealthy patrons. In the central circle, oval patterns contain allegorical figures of women in a background specific to one of the four seasons. Around the outer rim animals run through simply depicted landscapes.
Before the invention of the fork, the purpose of such objects was to clean one's hands after eating. When the fork was invented in the Renaissance, it changed the culture of eating into a more social activity. Aristocratic festivities including food, drink, and entertainment increased: at these feasts, guests could exchange their knowledge of the new humanist learning that emerged in the works of the 14th-century Italian writer Francesco Petrarch. According to Petrarch, the rise of the individual resulted in the quest for inner truth and the study of grammar, rhetoric, poetry, and history. This object is a good example of the gradual end of the medieval era, when simple survival was the most crucial part of people's daily lives. It shows how Renaissance developments in both technology and philosophy gave birth to a world centered on then individual's new control of the world around him.
Kimberley Babcock, in "SCHOLARS, EXPLORERS, PRIESTS, How the Renaissance Gave Us the Modern World," ex. cat. G -T M, Queens College, CUNY, February 2 - March 27, 2010, 27.
|Year Range from||1595|
|Year Range to||1600|
16th century AD
|Exhibition and Publication History||
*"Director's Choice, Part II," G-TM, 10/10-12/20/02. A. Winter, Curator.
* "SCHOLARS, EXPLORERS, PRIESTS, How the Renaissance Gave Us the Modern World," Curated by James M. Saslow, G -T M, Queens College, CUNY, February 2 - March 27, 2010, # 27, ill.