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The " Egg" of the Pala Montefeltro by Piero della Francesca and its symbolic meaning
Bock, Sebastian
Heidelberg: Universitšt Heidelberg / Zentrale und Sonstige Einrichtungen, 2003
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"The hanging ovoid object in Piero della Francesca's Montefeltro Altarpiece has long been the subject of controversies with regard to its identification and symbolic meaning. The present article argues that it can only be an ostrich egg (or imitation thereof), intended as an admonitory example. This is supported by further representations as well as by the interpretation of the "Rationale Divinorum Officorum" and a late version of the Greek "Physiologus". It is also born out by the widespread practice of suspending ostrich eggs among Coptic, Armenian, Greek-Orthodox, Latin and Nestorian Christians as well as in Islam. The eggs, often in the context of hanging lamps or lamp crowns, always served as warning or admonitory examples. Their varying emblematic significance is almost always related to the ostrich's behavior towards its eggs, attested in post-classical natural-history tales with allegorical interpretations, which is interpreted as a symbol of man's relationship to God or to religious ideas."

Language: English

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