Putto in Tortoise Frame I
Have you always wanted to have a Renaissance masterpiece hanging in your home? While this painting’s date of creation is unknown, smooth brushstrokes, delicate shadows, realistic features, and the inclusion of a putto are elements indicative of a work from the time of cultural and creative rebirth. Putti are nude male infants, often with wings, that frequently appear in religious works of the Renaissance and Baroque periods. As associates of Cupid – the ancient Roman god of love – putti are often angelic beings that act as messengers of love. In this particular painting, a putto is portraying justice while sitting on a cloud. He is wearing ostrich feathers and holding scales and an axe. Historically, ostrich plumes were seen as a symbol of purity and truth, and were a reminder to live a just and righteous life. The scale in this painting references the virtue of justice: a moral principle determining lawful conduct and fair behaviour and treatment. This work was purchased from a renowned art dealer in Philadelphia who acquired this painting from an Austrian castle, and has since been professionally restored. It is held in a faux tortoise frame; harvesting, selling, or using real tortoiseshell for any purpose has been banned since the 1990s in order to preserve the endangered tortoises and to stand up for animal rights. This painting has a pendant – take home this beautiful, eye-catching work on its own, or collect them both!
At this time in Europe, German inventor Johannes Gutenberg (1400–1468) began experimenting with printing technology and techniques in 1440, while in political exile in Strasbourg. By 1450, back in his home country, Gutenburg was operating the first printing press in all of Europe, revolutionizing book publishing. Although Gutenberg’s invention is one of the most important in Western book history, it is important to note that similar innovations occurred over 150 years earlier in China.