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The Virgin and Child

Group
ca. 1415 (made)
Artist/Maker
Place Of Origin

The Virgin is shown embracing the Christ Child while seated on a folding chair, reflecting a throne. This image of mother and son is close to the style of Ghiberti’s workshop, where the young Donatello worked in about 1404–7. The lyrical sway of the Virgin reflects the graceful manner of the older master. Another similar group is in the Detroit Institute of Arts. Both groups are given by some scholars to the young Donatello.



object details
Categories
Object Type
Materials and Techniques
Terracotta
Brief Description
Group, the Virgin and Child, Italy, Florence, ca.1415
Physical Description
The Virgin is represented seated on a throne or chair, which is set at an angle to the front plane of the base, with its left forward foot retracted and its right forward foot advanced. The four feet of the chair have the form of lion paws, the forward arms (of which only that on the left is preserved) are modelled in the form of a fir-cone, and the rear arms curve outwards and terminate in a scroll. At the point of juncture of the arms are bosses in the form of lion masks. The statuette is modelled with a flat back, excavated below the Virgin's shoulder's and beneath the seat. A broad horizontal strip between these two hollows is decorated with a diamond pattern, and perhaps represents the back of the throne or chair. The Virgin's knees conform to the front plane of the seat, and her right elbow rests on the rear arm. Her two hands meet on her lap, and her head is inclined slightly to her left towards the Child, who is represented with both arms round her neck pressing his head against her cheek. Her robe is drawn in by a tight girdle beneath the breasts, and is covered by a voluminous cloak with a turndown collar embroidered with imitation Cufic and terminating in tassels. The robe is edged with a fringed border decorated with imitation Cufic; its end emerges between the feet of the seat on the right. The Child's thighs are covered with a cloth which falls over the Virgin's left hand.
Dimensions
  • Height: 73cm
  • Width: 45.3cm
  • Depth: 36.5cm
Measured for the Medieval and Renaissance Galleries
Gallery Label
  • This image of mother and son is close to the style of Ghiberti’s workshop, where the young Donatello worked in about 1404–7. The lyrical sway of the Virgin reflects the graceful manner of the older master.(2009)
  • The Virgin is shown embracing the Christ Child and seated on a throne in the form of a folding chair. The group is most closely related to a Virgin and Child in the Detroit Institute of Arts. These terracottas are most closest stylistically to the work of the Florentine sculptors Lorenzo Ghiberti (1378-1455) and Donatello (about 1386-1466), and to that of the painter, Massaccio (1401-1428), and must have been produced in a Florentine workshop in their circle.
Object history
Purchased from the Gigli-Campana Collection.
Historical context
The group is most closely related to a Virgin and Child in the Detroit Institute of Arts.
Production
The group is closest to the work of the Florentine sculptors Lorenzo Ghiberti (1378-1455) and the young Donatello (1385/86-1466), and to that of the painter, Massaccio (1401-1428), and must have been produced in a Florentine workshop in their circle.
Subject depicted
Summary
The Virgin is shown embracing the Christ Child while seated on a folding chair, reflecting a throne. This image of mother and son is close to the style of Ghiberti’s workshop, where the young Donatello worked in about 1404–7. The lyrical sway of the Virgin reflects the graceful manner of the older master. Another similar group is in the Detroit Institute of Arts. Both groups are given by some scholars to the young Donatello.



Bibliographic References
  • Inventory of Art Objects Acquired in the Year 1861 In: Inventory of the Objects in the Art Division of the Museum at South Kensington, Arranged According to the Dates of their Acquisition. Vol I. London: Printed by George E. Eyre and William Spottiswoode for H.M.S.O., 1868, p. 19
  • Maclagan, Eric and Longhurst, Margaret H. Catalogue of Italian Sculpture. Text. London: Victoria and Albert Museum, 1932, p. 14
  • Pope-Hennessy, John, assisted by Lightbown, Ronald. Catalogue of Italian Sculpture in the Victoria and Albert Museum. Volume I: Text. Eighth to Fifteenth Century. London: HMSO, 1964, vol.1, pp. 61-63, cat. no. 54
  • Raggio, Olga. Catalogue of Italian Sculpture in the Victoria and Albert Museum. Art Bulletin. Vol. L, 1968, p. 100
  • Jolly, Anna. Madonnas by Donatello and his Circle. Phd Thesis, Cambrodge 1992, cat. 59- pp. 148, 153, pl. 110
  • Pope-Hennessy, John.. The Study and Criticism of Italian Sculpture. New York, 1980, p. 68
  • Darr, Alan, P. Italian Renaissance Sculpture in the time of Donatello: an exhibition to commemorate the 600th anniversary of Donatello's birth and the 100th anniversary of the Detroit Institute of Arts . Detroit Institute of Arts, Founders Society, 1985, pp. 106-108
  • Jolly, Anna. 'A Nanni di Bartolo terracotta Madonna: an important rediscovery'. In: Apollo, March 1993, pp. 159-165
  • Joannides, Paul. 'Masaccio, Masolino and 'Minor' Sculpture'. In: Paragone / Arte, September 1987, pp. 3-24
  • Passavant, G. 'Zu einigen toskanischen Terracotta-Madonnen der Frührenaissance', in: Mitteilungen des Kunsthistorischen Institutes in Florenz, XXXI, 1987, pp. 210-211
  • Schulz Markham, Anne. Nanni di Bartolo e il Portale di San Nicola a Tolentino. Florence, 1997, pp. 89, fig XXIX (detail), p. 91
  • Diebel, William. The Attribution Enigma Surrounding a Terracotta Madonna and Child at the Victoria and Albert Museum, thesis for Christies Education, April, 1994
  • Gentilini, Giancarlo. ed. I Della Robbia, La Scultura invetriata nel Rinascimento. Florence: 1992, p. 152, notes 61
  • Boucher, Bruce. 'Italian Renaissance Terracotta: Artistic Revival or Technological Innovation. In: Boucher, Bruce, ed. Earth and Fire: Italian Terracotta Sculpture from Donatello to Canova, 2001, p. 7 and p. 283, no. 18
Collection
Accession Number
7573-1861

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record createdSeptember 18, 2008
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