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Relief - The Virgin and Child
  • The Virgin and Child
    Donatello, born 1385 - died 1466
  • Enlarge image

The Virgin and Child

  • Object:

    Relief

  • Place of origin:

    Verona (probably made in Verona)

  • Date:

    ca. 1450-1475 (cast)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Donatello, born 1385 - died 1466 (after)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Stucco

  • Credit Line:

    Given by Dr W. L. Hildburgh FSA

  • Museum number:

    A.1-1932

  • Gallery location:

    Medieval & Renaissance, Room 64a, The Robert H. Smith Gallery, case WN

The composition of this stucco relief was popular in the fifteenth century. It is known as the Verona Madonna, after a version in stucco (formerly pigmented) on the outside of a house at the corner of the Vicolo delle Fogge in Verona. The surviving casts depend from a model by Donatello that is likely to have been produced during his stay at Padua, probably between 1447 and 1453. The weathered condition of this relief suggests that it was also a street Madonna. The model was probably designed specifically for reproduction, and examples survive in terracotta and other materials, as well as stucco as seen here. Some have been naturalistically painted.

Physical description

The Virgin and Child, relief in stucco (cast). The Virgin is shown in half-length facing to the right. She wraps the Child's head in her cloak with her left hand, and rests her right hand on his thigh. His head is against her cheek. The surface of the relief is substantially abraded.

Place of Origin

Verona (probably made in Verona)

Date

ca. 1450-1475 (cast)

Artist/maker

Donatello, born 1385 - died 1466 (after)

Materials and Techniques

Stucco

Dimensions

Height: 95.3 cm, Width: 63 cm, Depth: 15 cm, Weight: 25.5 kg

Object history note

Given to the museum by Dr. W. L. Hildburgh, F.S.A, in 1932.

Historical context note

This relief is known as the Verona Madonna after a version that remains in situ, fixed high on the external wall of a house on the Vicolo delle Fogge in Verona. It is thought to have been designed by Donatello during his stay in Padua, probably between 1447 and 1453, and was perhaps intended specifically for reproduction. It was a very popular design in the fifteenth century and numerous copies of this relief survive (with slight variations) in terracotta, stucco, and wood.

The V&A relief is identical to the one in Verona, and has a weathered surface, suggesting that it too was originally a street madonna. They are both made from stucco which was a durable but relatively cheap material; the casts could be made in large numbers and were often painted.

'Street madonnas' like this were devotional objects but were also thought to offer protection to the neighbourhoods over which they looked. Many remain in Italian cities, and new ones continue to be put up today.

Descriptive line

The Virgin and Child, relief in stucco after Donatello, Italy, probably Verona, about 1450-75

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

Pope-Hennessy, John, assisted by Lightbown, Ronald. A Catalogue of Italian Sculpture in the Victoria and Albert Museum. London: HMSO, 1964. Vol I, cat. 69, pp. 84-6; vol. III, pl. 87.
Trusted, Marjorie. The Making of Sculpture. The materials and techniques of European Sculpture. London. 2007. p.156, pl. 301.
Ronald G. Kecks, Madonna und Kind: Das häusliche Andachstbild im Florenz des 15. Jahrhunderts. Berlin 1988, p. 92, pl. 38.
Anthony Radcliffe in Anthony Radcliffe, Malcolm Baker and Michael Maek-Gérard, The Thyssen-Bornemisza Collection: Renaissance and later sculpture with works of art in bronze. London 1992, cat. 1, pp. 48-53
Anna Jolly. Madonnas by Donatello and his Circle. PhD thesis, University of Cambridge, 1992. pp. 24, 25, 42, 63-4, cat. 28.5, pp. 104-108, 113, 121,123,pl. 51. Published, as Madonnas by Donatello and his Circle, Frankfurt am Maim, 1998.
Boucher, Bruce. The Sculpture of Jacopa Sansorino. New Haven and London. 1991. p.100, pl., 236.
Kokole, S. 'Zu Madonnenreliefs des Niccolò di Giovanni Fiorentino' in Mitteilungen des Kunsthistorischen Institutes in Florenz. XXXVII. 1993. 2/3. note 20. p.219.
Curtis, Penelope, Depth of Field: the place of relief in the time of Donatello, Leeds: Henry Moore Institute, 2004

Labels and date

the virgin and child
About 1450–75
After Donatello (about 1386–1466)

This popular composition is known as the Verona Madonna after a stucco version
placed high on a street corner in Verona. Street Madonnas like this were thought to protect the neighbourhoods over which they watched. The Christ Child is like any other baby, nestling into his mother’s
breast and sucking his fingers.

Italy, probably Verona
Stucco
Museum no. A.1-1932 []
THE VIRGIN AND CHILD
About 1450
After Donatello (about 1386-1466)

This popular composition is known as the Verona Madonna after a stucco version placed high on a house on the corner of the Via delle Fogge in Verona. It appears to have been designed specifically for reproduction, and variants also exist in terracotta and papier mâché.

Italy, probably Verona

Stucco

Museum no. A.1-1932
Given by Dr W.L. Hildburgh FSA [2008]

Materials

Stucco

Techniques

Cast

Subjects depicted

Halo; Maternity

Categories

Sculpture; Religion; Christianity

Collection

Sculpture Collection

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