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Plaster cast

Plaster cast

  • Place of origin:

    Florence (city) (sculpted)
    Florence (city) (cast)

  • Date:

    1433-1456 (sculpted)
    ca. 1894 (cast)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Donatello, born 1385 - died 1466 (sculptor)
    Lelli, Giuseppe (maker)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Plaster cast

  • Museum number:

    REPRO.1894-48

  • Gallery location:

    Cast Courts, Room 46b, The Weston Cast Court , case WE, shelf N

The Cantoria, or Singing Gallery, may have acquired its name when, in 1688, the balustrade was replaced by a structure to hold a choir to sing at Ferdinando de'Medici's wedding. It was originally made as a pendant to Luca della Robbia’s Cantoria, a cast of which is also here. Changes were made to the original marble versions in later years, and there are still discrepancies between the present casts and the original appearance of the two Cantoria.

Physical description

Plaster cast of the cornice, alternating design of vases and acanthus leaves, and columns which from part of the cantoria from the marble original with mosaic inlay by Donatello in the Museo dell' Opera del Duomo, Florence (refer REPRO.1877-44). Main part originally carved 1433-8.

Place of Origin

Florence (city) (sculpted)
Florence (city) (cast)

Date

1433-1456 (sculpted)
ca. 1894 (cast)

Artist/maker

Donatello, born 1385 - died 1466 (sculptor)
Lelli, Giuseppe (maker)

Materials and Techniques

Plaster cast

Dimensions

Height: 109.5 cm column, Width: 132 cm, Length: 555.5 cm cornice

Object history note

Purchased from Giuseppe Lelli in 1894 for £54 5s

Historical context note

The original was formerly above the entrance to the South Sacristy of Florence Cathedral, a companion to Luca della Robbia's Cantoria, executed 1432-8, for the entrance to the North Sacristy.

The Cantoria, or Singing Gallery, was probably designed as an organ loft, and may have acquired its name when, in 1688, the balustrade was replaced by a larger wooden structure to hold a choir to sing at Ferdinando de'Medici's wedding. The lower part remained in place until 1841/2, when a new organ loft was installed. The upper frieze was not reunited with the lower part until 1870, when all known fragments of the Cantoria were exhibited in the Museo Nazionale. The columns remained unrecognised in the courtyard of the Opera del Duomo. It was not until the recognition of these columns, and the discovery of a small part of the original cornice, that a reconstruction was effected by Luigi del Moro, after 1883. The acquisition of the Victoria and Albert Museum's cast in two parts (lower part and frieze 1877, upper cornice and columns 1894) and its reconstruction after del Moro's design reflects the stages of research in Florence. There are still discrepancies between the present cast and the original appearance of the Cantoria. The blank tondi of the lowest register once contained two bronze heads by Donatello, documented in 1436, 1439 and 1456. These have tentatively been identified as two heads in the Museo dell'Opera del Duomo. There is uncertainty in the relationship of the columns to the frieze, and in the exact ornamentation of the top cornice, as it was reconstructed from only a small fragment.

Descriptive line

Plaster cast of the cornice and columns which forms part of the cantoria after marble original by Donatello, cast by Guiseppe Lelli, about 1894

Categories

Ph_survey; Sculpture; Architecture

Collection

Sculpture Collection

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