The crane has the right foot raised and holds a stone in its claws. According to a traditional belief already present in Pliny (Naturalis Historia, X, 58-59), the crane watches over a single paw holding a stone in the other, so that if it grows drowsy, the fall of the stone will immediately rouse it. This is illustrated by the motto officium natura docet, inscribed in the scroll that usually accompanies it. The company “represents Vigilance, Prudence, and a great prowess in the Militia” (original text: Ginanni, L’arte del blasone, p. 95; see also Ripa, Iconologia, pp. 466-467; Ceccarelli, “Non mai”, pp. 54-55). Giovanni Santi identified these very qualities in Federico, and they are also the same qualities that should be possessed by any man in arms. In his Cronaca, Santi had called him “ever vigilant and alert” (original text: Santi, La vita e le gesta di Federico di Montefeltro, lib. XIV, cap. XVIII, v. 182). In the Studiolo, the crane is also represented beneath some astronomical instruments to refer to shrewdness and calculation, necessary to the man of arms when confronting adversaries (see Cheles, Lo Studiolo di Urbino, pp. 73-74; Raggio, Lo Studiolo, p. 120 figg. 5-72 e 5-74).
Urb. lat. 93, f. 8r - Urb. lat. 102, f. 1r