Spot the prawns

Like the print of Moses mentioned in my previous post, this woodcut of the Madonna del Gamberone from Douce’s collection was probably destined to be pinned to the walls of somebody’s home:

Anonymous, Il Vero Ritrato della Madona Santissima di Gambarone di Bondeno, c. 1650-1750, hand-coloured woodcut (Ashmolean Museum, Oxford).

The original painting is kept in a chapel in the Comune di Bondeno, in Ferrara. According to Michele Bianco, the image was ‘found’ in a canal called Gamberone, from which it took its name.* This explains the presence of at least seven king prawns, or ‘gamberone’, creeping up the Virgin’s mantle:


By the mid-seventeenth century, the image was considered as ‘molto miracolosa’ and the shrine became a pilgrimage site. After 1641, the Madonna del Gambarone was transferred to a new building, which might be the tiny chapel below:

Madonna del Gamberone, Italy ©Panoramio. All rights reserved by mhl50_bnc.

* ‘Seicento religioso bondenese e ferrarese tra piet√† mariana e superstizione’, in Analecta Pomposiana, XIX, 1994.

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