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Relief

Relief

  • Place of origin:

    Milan (made)

  • Date:

    ca. 1500 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Amadeo, Giovanni Antonio (artist)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Carved marble

  • Credit Line:

    Purchased with assistance from the bequests of Miss Ellen Lucy Barber and M. L. Horn

  • Museum number:

    A.1-1974

  • Gallery location:

    Medieval & Renaissance, Room 64, The Wolfson Gallery, case WS

This fragment formed part of a larger relief. In keeping with Lombard workshop tradition, it may have been carved by a skilled assistant to Amadeo’s design. The shield shows the French fleur-de-lis quartered with the serpent of the Visconti family, who ruled Milan during periods of French occupation.

Physical description

Two angels, shown in profile facing right are holding the left-hand section of a wreath. The angel further to the left is also holding a shield with a coat-of-arms, partly hidden behind his dress, showing the French fleur-de-lys quartered with the Visconti serpent.
The angels are dressed in loose gowns, pulled together around the waist and buttoned along the side of the leg.

Place of Origin

Milan (made)

Date

ca. 1500 (made)

Artist/maker

Amadeo, Giovanni Antonio (artist)

Materials and Techniques

Carved marble

Dimensions

Height: 46.3 cm, Width: 30.5 cm, Depth: 6.2 cm

Object history note

Acquired at Christie's Manson & Woods, 4th December 1973, for £4,410, with the assistance of the Horn and the Barber bequests
Previously in the Collection of Dr. Fritz Mannheimer, Amsterdam and G. Dreyfus, Paris

Historical context note

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 relief is a fragment of a much larger composition. The two angels probably form the left end of a relief which would have included a large round wreath, perhaps containg a portrait head or a coat-of-arms as on the Colleoni chapel and tomb, and a group mirroring the present sculpture on the right hand side. The complete relief could have been intended as the lower register of a façade or the lintel over a door, as well as part of a monument commemorating a person related to the French rulers of Milan.

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.

French Invasion of Milan(1499-1512):
Ludovico Sforza, seeking an ally against the Republic of Venice, encouraged Charles VIII of France to invade Italy, using the Angevin claim to the throne of Naples, then under Aragonese control, as a pretext. When Ferdinand I of Naples died in 1494, Charles invaded the peninsula. For several months, French forces moved through Italy virtually unopposed, since the condottiere armies of the Italian city-states were unable to resist them. Their sack of Naples finally provoked a reaction, however, and the League of Venice was formed against them. Italian troops defeated the French at the battle of Fornovo, forcing Charles to withdraw to France. Ludovico, having betrayed the French at Fornovo, retained his throne until 1499, when Charles' successor, Louis XII of France, invaded Lombardy and seized Milan. When Louis invaded Italy in 1499, Milan was not strong enough, and, frankly, the Sforza's were not popular enough, to offer effective resistance. Duke Ludovico died in French custody. With Spanish help, the French were eventually ejected and the Sforzas restored, but then the new French King, Francis I, decided to try his luck. Twice he recovered Milan (1515 & 1524) but then was decisively defeated and even captured at the Battle of Pavia (1525). After getting back to France, Francis put together the League of Cognac with the Pope, the Sforzas (strangely enough), Venice, and Florence. But the Spain of Charles V was not now to be resisted, and the League only accomplished the loss of Milan (1526) and the memorable sack of Rome by the Spanish army (1527). The French gave up on Italy, and Charles installed the last Sforza, Francesco II, in Milan (1529).

French Invasion of Italy (1499-1512):
Ludovico Sforza, seeking an ally against the Republic of Venice, encouraged Charles VIII of France to invade Italy, using the Angevin claim to the throne of Naples, then under Aragonese control, as a pretext. When Ferdinand I of Naples died in 1494, Charles invaded the peninsula. For several months, French forces moved through Italy virtually unopposed, since the condottiere armies of the Italian city-states were unable to resist them. Their sack of Naples finally provoked a reaction, however, and the League of Venice was formed against them. Italian troops defeated the French at the battle of Fornovo, forcing Charles to withdraw to France. Ludovico, having betrayed the French at Fornovo, retained his throne until 1499, when Charles' successor, Louis XII of France, invaded Lombardy and seized Milan. When Louis invaded Italy in 1499, Milan was not strong enough, and, frankly, the Sforza's were not popular enough, to offer effective resistance. Duke Ludovico died in French custody. With Spanish help, the French were eventually ejected and the Sforzas restored, but then the new French King, Francis I, decided to try his luck. Twice he recovered Milan (1515 & 1524) but then was decisively defeated and even captured at the Battle of Pavia (1525). After getting back to France, Francis put together the League of Cognac with the Pope, the Sforzas (strangely enough), Venice, and Florence. But the Spain of Charles V was not now to be resisted, and the League only accomplished the loss of Milan (1526) and the memorable sack of Rome by the Spanish army (1527). The French gave up on Italy, and Charles installed the last Sforza, Francesco II, in Milan (1529).

Descriptive line

Relief depicting two angels with a shield and wreath, Italian, ca. 1500-12

Bibliographic References (Citation, Note/Abstract, NAL no)

Schofield. R.V Avoiding Rome: An introduction to Lombard Sculptors and the Antique (A.Lombarda, 100, 1992)
Bernstein , J. A. G. A Reconsideration of Amadeo's style in the 1470s and 1480s and Two New Attributions (A. Lombarda, 13 1968)
Vitry, Paul, Guiffrey, Jean and Migeon, Gaston. La Collection de M. Gustave Dreyfus, Paris, 1908, p. 29.
Italiaanische Kunst in Nederlandsch Bezit, Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam, July-Cotober 1934, p. 203, no. 877.

Labels and date

TWO ANGELS with a shield and a wreath
About 1500-12
Probably by Giovanni Antonio Amadeo (1447-1522)

The arms on this shield show the fleur-de-lis of France and the serpent of the Visconti dukes of Milan. These were the arms born by the French kings, Louis XII and Francis I, who conquered and ruled Milan in the early years of the 16th century. The panel probably comes from the left side of a door lintel.

Italy, Lombardy

Marble

Museum no. A.1-1974
Purchased with the assistance of Miss Ellen Lucy Barker and M.L. Horn [2008]

Production Note

Stylistically related to other works by Amadeo and his assistants of the late 15th early 16th century, including the Arca di S. Lanfranco (1498-1508).The coat-of-arms represent the French fleur-de-lys quartered with the Visconti serpent, therefore to be dated to either the first French invasion (1500-1512) or the second French period as rulers of Milan (1515-21).The coat-of-arms is that of the rulers of Milan during the French occupation of the city. Amadeo was resident in Milan between 1500 and his death in 1522.

Materials

Marble

Techniques

Carving

Subjects depicted

Wreath; Angels; Shield

Categories

Sculpture

Collection

Sculpture Collection

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