Clasped hands; couples in facing profile; garlands of myrtle; the words fede (faith) and volo (I wish to): these are graphic declarations of love and fidelity that grace Renaissance art.
Conjuring up elements of contemporary marriage ritual and tokens of amorous exchange, they afford an unparalleled insight into private life in Renaissance Italy. At the same time, knowledge of the rituals of Renaissance love and mar- riage in all their variety can inform our understanding of the maiolica, glassware, paintings, and the objects in a multitude of other media on which such imagery appears. In this exhibition we have attempted to gather the broadest possible array of art- work designed to commemorate betrothals, marriages, and the arrival of children, as well as the celebration of less official ardent attachments. The range is impressive—extending from birth trays painted at the beginning of the fifteenth century through large canvases on mythological themes by Titian in the mid-sixteenth century—but each work of art would have been recognized by contemporary viewers for its function within the private, domes- tic domain.