Three Adoring Angels thumbnail 1
Three Adoring Angels thumbnail 2
+1
images
Image of Gallery in South Kensington
On display at V&A South Kensington
Medieval & Renaissance, Room 64, The Wolfson Gallery

Three Adoring Angels

Figure Group
ca. 1490-1510 (made)
Artist/Maker
Place of origin

This is a relief group Three Adoring Angels by Giovanni Antonio Amadeo, made in the Lombard region in about 1490-1520. The expressions of grief on the faces suggest that this relief formed part of a Lamentation group with mourning figures gathered around the body of Christ. The jagged, clinging drapery style is typical of several Lombard sculptors. It is sometimes referred to as ‘cartaceous’ drapery because it resembles crumpled paper (Latin ‘carta’).

Giovanni Antonio Amadeo (1447-1522) was a sculptor and architect, mainly active in Milan, Pavia, Bergamo and Cremona. His professional success, in terms of the architectural and sculptural commissions and official appointments that he received, was far greater than that of any of his contemporaries in Lombardy in the late 15th century, including Bramante.

With most Lombard sculptors it is almost impossible to say with any certainty which artist was responsible for carving an object. The structure of Lombard workshop was much more varied and complex than that of the Tuscan counterparts and each master organised the division of labour in a different way. Giovanni Antonio Amadeo was particularly complicated in that respect. Not only was he the master of his own workshop, with a large number of assistants, but he also formed partnerships with other masters and their workshops, as well as overseeing the large fabbriche at the Duomo and the Ospedale Maggiore in Milan and the Certosa di Pavia, among others.
Regarding the Certosa di Pavia alone, he had stipulated a contract with four other sculptors: Lazzaro Palazzi, Giovanni Giacomo Dolcebuono, Giovanni Antionio Piatti and Angelo da Lecco. The commission for the façade of the Certosa was then given to both Amadeo and the Mantegazza brothers, and each party was responsible for half of the façade.
He worked in close partnership with Piatti, Dolcebuono and Benedetto Briosco on a variety of projects that were too large for a single workshop.
From the 1490s onwards he was awarded many large-scale architectural and sculptural projects, and he was mostly responsible for designing and overseeing the project rather than sculpting many pieces himself. He would have carved only key objects such as portraits or important relief scenes.
The present relief formed the decorative frame of some sculpture and would have probably been designed by Amadeo, but executed by a skilled assistant under close supervision, judging from the high quality of the carving. The master would perhaps have given it the finishing touches or adjusted any mistakes, rather than carve the entire sculpture himself.



Object details
Categories
Object type
Materials and techniques
Marble carved in relief
Brief description
Group, relief, marble, Three Adoring Angels, by Giovanni Antonio Amadeo, Italy (Lombardy), ca. 1490-1520
Physical description
Relief depicting three angels. They stand on a rocky base, the two to the fore are shown in profile and hold their hands together in a gesture of prayer. The third angel is seen almost in full face, with his right hand brought up to his face and his left supporting his right elbow. The angels wear loose tunics caught up at the waist and buttoned on the thigh.
Dimensions
  • Height: 57cm
  • Width: 28cm
Measured for the Medieval and Renaissance Galleries
Gallery label
THREE ADORING ANGELS About 1490-1520 Giovanni Antonio Amadeo (1447-1522) The expressions of grief on the faces suggest that the relief formed part of a Lamentation group, with mourning figures gathered around the body of Christ. The jagged, clinging drapery style is typical of several Lombard sculptors. It is sometimes referred to as 'cartaceous' drapery because it resembles crumpled paper. Italy, Lombardy Marble Museum no. 450-1869(2008)
Object history
Purchased in Florence (Gagliardi, £150).
Historical context
With most Lombard sculptors it is almost impossible to say with any certainty which artist was responsible for carving an object. The structure of Lombard workshop was much more varied and complex than that of the Tuscan counterparts and each master organised the division of labour in a different way. Giovanni Antonio Amadeo was particularly complicated in that respect. Not only was he the master of his own workshop, with a large number of assistants, but he also formed partnerships with other masters and their workshops, as well as overseeing the large fabbriche at the Duomo and the Ospedale Maggiore in Milan and the Certosa di Pavia, among others.

Regarding the Certosa di Pavia alone, he had stipulated a contract with four other sculptors: Lazzaro Palazzi, Giovanni Giacomo Dolcebuono, Giovanni Antionio Piatti and Angelo da Lecco. The commission for the façade of the Certosa was then given to both Amadeo and the Mantegazza brothers, and each party was responsible for half of the façade.

He worked in close partnership with Piatti, Dolcebuono and Benedetto Briosco on a variety of projects, that were too large for a single workshop.

From the 1490s onwards he was awarded many large-scale architectural and sculptural projects, and he was mostly responsible for designing and overseeing the project rather than sculpting many pieces himself. He would have carved only key objects such as portraits or important relief scenes .

The present relief formed the decorative frame of some sculpture and would have probably been designed by Amadeo, but executed by a skilled assistant under close supervision, judging from the high quality of the carving. The master would perhaps have given it the finishing touches or adjusted any mistakes, rather than carve the entire sculpture himself.



The curved poses of the angels suggest that the relief formed part of a half-rounded composition like a lunette or tympanum. This is further supported by the presence of the metal ring at the back for fixing. The present relief would have been set on the right-hand side of the central panel, with a counterpart mirroring it on the left. This structure could have been set above a door, like in the Certosa di Pavia, and would have therefore been part of one of the large-scale architectural and sculptural projects that Amadeo was in charge of at the end of the 15th and beginning of the 16th century.



Three angels are standing on a rocky base, the two at the front are shown in profile and holding their hands brought together in a gesture of prayer. The third angel is seen almost in full face, with his right hand brought up to his face and his left supporting his right elbow.Their gestures and facial expression register sadness or despair, and the current interpretation that this relief would have formed part of a Lamentation scene seems plausible.



Giovanni Antonio Amadeo (1447-1522)

Sculptor and architect, mainly active in Milan, Pavia, Bergamo and Cremona.

His professional success, in terms of the architectural and sculptural commissions and official appointments that he received, was far greater than that of any of his contemporaries in Lombardy in the late 15th century, including Bramante.



Certosa di Pavia

The Carthusian monastery was founded in 1390 by Giangaleazzo Visconti. Building began in 1396, however most of the work was done in the second half of the 15th century, while Francesco Sforza was Duke of Milan. The church was consecrated in 1497, but work continued until the 1550s. All the most renowned Lombard sculptors and architects of the time worked on the church and especially on its façade, including the Mantegazza, Amadeo Briosco, Solari and the da Sesto brothers.
Production
Amadeo was working on numerous projects in both Milan and Pavia during this period and the relief could therfore have originated in either city.
Subjects depicted
Summary
This is a relief group Three Adoring Angels by Giovanni Antonio Amadeo, made in the Lombard region in about 1490-1520. The expressions of grief on the faces suggest that this relief formed part of a Lamentation group with mourning figures gathered around the body of Christ. The jagged, clinging drapery style is typical of several Lombard sculptors. It is sometimes referred to as ‘cartaceous’ drapery because it resembles crumpled paper (Latin ‘carta’).



Giovanni Antonio Amadeo (1447-1522) was a sculptor and architect, mainly active in Milan, Pavia, Bergamo and Cremona. His professional success, in terms of the architectural and sculptural commissions and official appointments that he received, was far greater than that of any of his contemporaries in Lombardy in the late 15th century, including Bramante.



With most Lombard sculptors it is almost impossible to say with any certainty which artist was responsible for carving an object. The structure of Lombard workshop was much more varied and complex than that of the Tuscan counterparts and each master organised the division of labour in a different way. Giovanni Antonio Amadeo was particularly complicated in that respect. Not only was he the master of his own workshop, with a large number of assistants, but he also formed partnerships with other masters and their workshops, as well as overseeing the large fabbriche at the Duomo and the Ospedale Maggiore in Milan and the Certosa di Pavia, among others.

Regarding the Certosa di Pavia alone, he had stipulated a contract with four other sculptors: Lazzaro Palazzi, Giovanni Giacomo Dolcebuono, Giovanni Antionio Piatti and Angelo da Lecco. The commission for the façade of the Certosa was then given to both Amadeo and the Mantegazza brothers, and each party was responsible for half of the façade.

He worked in close partnership with Piatti, Dolcebuono and Benedetto Briosco on a variety of projects that were too large for a single workshop.

From the 1490s onwards he was awarded many large-scale architectural and sculptural projects, and he was mostly responsible for designing and overseeing the project rather than sculpting many pieces himself. He would have carved only key objects such as portraits or important relief scenes.

The present relief formed the decorative frame of some sculpture and would have probably been designed by Amadeo, but executed by a skilled assistant under close supervision, judging from the high quality of the carving. The master would perhaps have given it the finishing touches or adjusted any mistakes, rather than carve the entire sculpture himself.



Bibliographic references
  • Bernstein, J. A. G. A., Reconsideration of Amadeo's style in the 1470s and 1480s and Two New Attributions. Arte Lombarda. 13, 1968, 2, pp. 33-42
  • Schofield, R. V., Avoiding Rome: An introduction to Lombard Sculptors and the Antique. Arte Lombarda. N. S. 100, 1992, 1. pp. 29-44
  • List of Objects in the Art Division, South Kensington, Acquired During the Year 1869, Arranged According to the Dates of Acquisition. London: Printed by George E. Eyre and William Spottiswoode for H.M.S.O., p. 34
  • Pope-Hennessy, John. Catalogue of Italian Sculpture in the Victoria and Albert Museum. London: HMSO, 1964, cat. no. 398, fig. 396
  • Maclagan, Eric and Longhurst, Margaret H. Catalogue of Italian Sculpture. London, 1932, p. 112
Collection
Accession number
450-1869

About this object record

Explore the Collections contains over a million catalogue records, and over half a million images. It is a working database that includes information compiled over the life of the museum. Some of our records may contain offensive and discriminatory language, or reflect outdated ideas, practice and analysis. We are committed to addressing these issues, and to review and update our records accordingly.

You can write to us to suggest improvements to the record.

Suggest Feedback

Record createdJanuary 5, 2006
Record URL
Download as: JSONIIIF Manifest