Pietro Mellini thumbnail 1
Pietro Mellini thumbnail 2
Image of Gallery in South Kensington
On display at V&A South Kensington
Cast Courts, Room 46b, The Weston Cast Court

Pietro Mellini

Plaster Cast
1474 (sculpted), ca. 1885 (cast)
Artist/Maker
Place Of Origin

This is a plaster cast of the original marble bust of Pietro Mellini in the Museo Nazionale (Bargello) in Florence, made by Benedetto da Maiano in 1474 in Florence. The plaster cast is made by Oronzio Lelli in about 1885 in Florence, Italy. The sitter Pietro Mellini was a wealthy Florentine merchant who also commissioned from Benedetto the pulpit in S. Croce of which a cast is shown behind this bust (museum no. 1884-639) and a tabernacle in Assisi carved by the Maiano workshop.

Benedetto da Maiano (1442-1497) was a sculptor and wood-carver and the brother of Giuliano da Maiano. He was one of the most accomplished marble-carvers of the 15th century and the foremost sculptor in Florence of the generation following Bernardo Rossellino.

Plaster casts were especially sought after during the 19th century, when reproductions of great works of sculpture and architecture were thought crucial for the training of artists. A separating substance was applied to the surface of the work to be reproduced, and a plaster mould made from that. The mould would then be used to make any number of additional plaster copies. These were often sold to artists, and later in the century to art colleges for study purposes.


object details
Categories
Object Type
Materials and Techniques
Plaster cast
Brief Description
Plaster cast, portrait of Pietro Mellini, after a marble original by Benedetto da Maiano in the Museo Nazionale (Bargello), Florence, 1474, cast made by Oronzio Lelli, Florence, ca. 1885
Physical Description
This cast is of the bust of Pietro Mellini. Inscribed: 'BENEDICTVS MAIANVS FECIT' and 'PETRI MELLINI . FRANCISCI FILLII . IMAGO HEC.AN.1474'
Dimensions
  • Height: 53.5cm
  • Width: 61.5cm
Marks and Inscriptions
'BENEDICTVS MAIANVS FECIT' and 'PETRI MELLINI . FRANCISCI FILLII . IMAGO HEC.AN.1474'
Gallery Label
The 15th-century artist Benedetto da Maiano was admired for his realism. Here, the sitter’s face is particularly expressive, while the embroidered costume is depicted with delicate skill. It is thought that the original portrait, of a Florentine merchant, may have been based on a life-mask, a cast taken from the face. (2014)
Object history
Purchased from Oronzio Lelli in 1885 for 16s 8d (200 lire).
Historical context
The bust is signed: BENEDICTVS MAIANVS FECIT and inscribed with the sitter's name and the date PETRI MELLINI.FRANCISCI FILII.IMAGO HEC.AN.1474. Pietro Mellini was a wealthy Florentine merchant who also commissioned from Benedetto the pulpit in S. Croce of which a cast is shown behind this bust (museum no. 1884-639) and a tabernacle in Assisi carved by the Maiano workshop. This detailed portrait appears to have been based on a life mask and the final version in marble would have been preceded by a terracotta sketch model similar to the terracotta study in Berlin for Benedetto's marble portrait of Filippo Strozzi in the Louvre (a cast of which is also in the collection at the V&A, museum no. REPRO.1864-15).
Subject depicted
Summary
This is a plaster cast of the original marble bust of Pietro Mellini in the Museo Nazionale (Bargello) in Florence, made by Benedetto da Maiano in 1474 in Florence. The plaster cast is made by Oronzio Lelli in about 1885 in Florence, Italy. The sitter Pietro Mellini was a wealthy Florentine merchant who also commissioned from Benedetto the pulpit in S. Croce of which a cast is shown behind this bust (museum no. 1884-639) and a tabernacle in Assisi carved by the Maiano workshop.



Benedetto da Maiano (1442-1497) was a sculptor and wood-carver and the brother of Giuliano da Maiano. He was one of the most accomplished marble-carvers of the 15th century and the foremost sculptor in Florence of the generation following Bernardo Rossellino.



Plaster casts were especially sought after during the 19th century, when reproductions of great works of sculpture and architecture were thought crucial for the training of artists. A separating substance was applied to the surface of the work to be reproduced, and a plaster mould made from that. The mould would then be used to make any number of additional plaster copies. These were often sold to artists, and later in the century to art colleges for study purposes.
Collection
Accession Number
REPRO.1885-137

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record createdDecember 7, 1999
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