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Relief - The Virgin and Child

The Virgin and Child

  • Object:


  • Place of origin:

    Italy (made)

  • Date:

    third quarter 15th century (made)

  • Artist/Maker:


  • Materials and Techniques:

    Purple-veined white marble panel in wooden frame with figures sculptured in low relief

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    In Storage

This is a panel relief in purple-veined white marble, made in the third quarter of the 15th century in Florence. This relief, representing the Virgin and Child, is in the style of Desiderio da Settignano (1428-1464). This popular composition is recorded in a number of reliefs in pigmented stucco and in paintings from the workshop of Neri di Bicci (1419-1491). The relationship between the marble and the stuccos is problematic. The measurements of an example in the museum in Berlin-Dahlem agree closely enough to this relief to suggest that the stucco is a squeeze (or cast) from it.
Desiderio da Settignano, (Desiderio de Bartolomeo di Francesco detto Ferro (c. 1428 or 1430 – 1464) was an Italian sculptor active during the Renaissance. He came from a family of stone carvers and stonemasons. His work is influenced by Donatello, but very likley he was trained in the large Florentine workshop run by Bernardo and Antonio Rossellino.

Physical description

Relief in purple-veined white marble. The Virgin is represented seated in half-length turned to the right. Her head is in three-quarter face, and her hands are clasped in prayer. Her robe is decorated on the wrists and chest with embroidered putti, and at the neck with a foliated design. The cloak has a foliated border. The Child, seated in left profile on a tasselled cushion on the right of the relief, places his left hand on the Virgin's wrist and with his right holds up her veil. The figures are set against a background of cloudy sky. At the upper corners are two winged cherub heads. The relief is recessed inside a moulded frame.

Place of Origin

Italy (made)


third quarter 15th century (made)



Materials and Techniques

Purple-veined white marble panel in wooden frame with figures sculptured in low relief


Height: 41.4 cm, Width: 34.3 cm

Object history note

Bought in 1866.

Descriptive line

Panel relief, marble in wooden frame, the Virgin and Child, in the style of Desiderio da Settignano, Florentine, third quarter of the 15th century

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

Kecks, Ronald G. Madonna und Kind: das häusliche Andachtsbild im Florenz des 15. Jahrhunderts. Berlin: Mann, 1988, p. 43, 70f, 101, 143, pl. 106
Inventory of Art Objects acquired in the Year 1866. Inventory of the Objects in the Art Division of the Museum at South Kensington, arranged According to the Dates of their Acquisition. Vol. 1. London : Printed by George E. Eyre and William Spottiswoode for H.M.S.O., 1868, p. 23
Raggio, Olga. Catalogue of Italian Sculpture in the Victoria and Albert Museum. Art Bulletin. 1968, vol. L, pp. 101
Pope-Hennessy, John. Catalogue of Italian Sculpture in the Victoria and Albert Museum. Volume I: Text, Sixteenth to Twentieth Century. London: HMSO, 1964, pp. 142-143
Natale, Mauro. and Ritschard, Claude. L'art d'imiter : images de la Renaissance italienne au Musée d'Art et d'Histoire : falsifications, manipulations, pastiches. Genève : Ville de Genève, Département des Affaires Culturelles, 1997, pp. 152-155
Zsuzsa, Ulbach. A Desiderio da Settignano-Copy in the Collection of the Matthias Church. Különlenyomat a Müvészettörtéeti Érbesítö. 2005, L LV. 1-2, Számából, pp. 81-85
Bormand, Marc and Paolozzi, Beatrice and Penny, Nicholas. eds. Desiderio da Settignano: Sculptor of Renaissance Florence. Washington: 2007, pp. 37, 199. Catalogue of the exhibitions held Musée du Louvre, Paris, Museo Nazionale del Bargello, Florence and National Gallery of Art, Washington.
Maclagan, Eric and Longhurst, Margaret H. Catalogue of Italian Sculpture. London, 1932, p. 41

Production Note

In the style of Desiderio da Settignano. Made in the third quarter of the 15th century


Marble; Wood


Low relief

Subjects depicted

Clouds; Cherub heads


Sculpture; Christianity; Religion; Reliefs


Sculpture Collection

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