Last month, our mindsets changed with the discovery of the cradle on the left below.
So, at last, a cradle of historical significance has joined my collector friend's much- loved cradle collection. This new addition also suggests an answer to a big question: what was the purpose of these little cradles? We have never really known WHY they were made. Some think they were given to couples as wedding gifts that symbolized a hoped-for family; others think they were made to celebrate a birth. The cradle impressed Le Roi de Rome clearly falls into the latter camp, so perhaps all cradles were made as gifts to be given in the same celebratory spirit.
While it suggests an answer to one big question, the little cradles raises several additional questions:
- Do we know of any other figures with French writing on them? I think not.
- Why at the height of the Napoleonic Wars would English potters make a cradle to celebrate the birth of their arch-enemy's heir?
- Who would the intended buyer of this cradle be? England was not exporting to France in the midst of war, so why the French wording?