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Statuette - The Virgin with the laughing Child; Virgin and Child
  • The Virgin with the laughing Child
    Rossellino, Antonio, born 1427 - died 1479
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The Virgin with the laughing Child; Virgin and Child

  • Object:

    Statuette

  • Place of origin:

    Florence, Italy (made)

  • Date:

    ca. 1465 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Rossellino, Antonio, born 1427 - died 1479 (artist)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Terracotta

  • Museum number:

    4495-1858

  • Gallery location:

    Medieval and Renaissance, room 64a, case 1

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This sculpture is one of the most famous pieces in the Victoria and Albert Museum. We are not sure who modelled it. Andrea del Verrocchio, Leonardo da Vinci and Desiderio da Settignano are among a variety of 15th century Florentine sculptors who may have made it. It is true that the Christ Child resembles Desiderio's work. But the emphasis on the human relationship between mother and child and the naturalistic treatment of the subject are typical of the time.

The style of the terracotta is similar to Antonio Rossellino's work. In particular, it resembles the Virgin and Child on the Cardinal of Portugal's tomb in San Miniato al Monte in Florence. Rossellino made this about 1461-1466. The statuette in the V&A was probably a sketch model for a life-size marble group. The group was probably similar to the Madonna del Latte on the Nori Monument in the church of Santa Croce, Florence. Dated 1478, this was one of Rossellino's late works. Antonio Rossellino was the most important member of a family of sculptors. Most of his works are in his native Florence, but some survive in other towns, such as Prato and Naples. You can see his first signed work, the bust of Giovanni Chellini, dated 1456, in the V&A.

Physical description

Terracotta figure of the Virgin holding a smiling Christ Child.

Place of Origin

Florence, Italy (made)

Date

ca. 1465 (made)

Artist/maker

Rossellino, Antonio, born 1427 - died 1479 (artist)

Materials and Techniques

Terracotta

Dimensions

Height: 49 cm, Width: 27 cm, Depth: 24.5 cm, Weight: 14.42 kg

Object history note

This sculpture, one of the most celebrated pieces in the Victoria and Albert Museum, has been attributed to a variety of fifteenth-century Florentine sculptors, including Verrocchio, Leonardo da Vinci and Desiderio da Settignano. The Christ Child is certainly reminiscent of Desiderio's work, but the naturalistic intimacy of the figures is typical of the treatment of the subject at the time, emphasising the human relationship between mother and child. The present terracotta is stylistically similar to other work by Antonio Rossellino, notably the Virgin and Child on the monument to the Cardinal of Portugal in San Miniato al Monte in Florence of about 1461-66. The statuette was probably a sketch-model for a life-size marble group similar to the Madonna del Latte on the Nori Monument in Santa Croce, Florence (1478), a late work by the artist. The works of Antonio Rossellino, the most important member of a family of sculptors, can mainly be found in his native Florence, but some survive in other centres, such as Prato and Naples. His first signed work, the bust of Giovanni Chellini (dated 1456), can also be seen in the Museum.

Descriptive line

Terracotta figure, The Virgin with the Laughing Child, Antonio Rossellino, Italy (Florence), ca. 1465.

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

Paul Williamson, ed., European Sculpture at the Victoria and Albert Museum, London : V&A, 1996. p. 78, ill. ISBN: 1 85177 188 3.
Inventory of Art Objects Acquired in the Year 1858. 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. 14.
Maclagan, Eric and Longhurst, Margaret H. Catalogue of Italian Sculpture. Text. London: Victoria and Albert Museum, 1932, p. 65.
Pope-Hennessy, John. Catalogue of Italian Sculpture in the Victoria and Albert Museum. Volume I: Text. Eighth to Fifteenth Century. London: Her Majesty's Stationery Office, 1964, pp. 126-127.
Pope-Hennessy, John. The Virgin witht the Laughing Child. V&A, London: 1972
Bellosi, Luciano (ed.). Francesco di Giorgio e il Rinascimento a Siena 1450-1500. Exhibition Catalogue, Milan 1993, pp. 222&224, ill. P. 224 (detail)
Avery, Charles. Florentine Renaiisance Sculpture. New York, 1970. p. 114, pl. 87
Penny, Nicholas. The Materials of Sculpture. New Haven and London: 1993, pp. 205-209.
Carl, Doris. Benedetto da Maiano. A Florentine Sculptor at the Threshold of the High Renaissance. Regensburg, 2006, pp. 98, 100-101, fig. 40.
Bormand, Marc; Paolozzi Strozzi, Beatrice; Penny, Nicholas (eds.). Desiderio da Settignano. Sculptor of Renaissance Florence. Exhibition Catalogue. Washington, 2007, p. 166.
Villata, Edoardo. Intorno a Leonardo scultore: una proposta di metodo e un' ipotesi di applicazione. Raccolta Vinciana. Fascicolo XXXIV, 2011, pp. 53-102.

Labels and date

About 1465
Antonio Rossellino (1427-79)

This sculpture, widely known as The Virgin with the Laughing Child, may be a model for a marble. Alternatively, it may be one of the small-scale devotional objects that were so popular in Florentine homes, but now stripped of its naturalistic paint. Antonio Rossellino was the most important member of a family of sculptors.

Italy, Florence

Terracotta

Museum no. 4495-1858 [2008]

Materials

Terracotta

Subjects depicted

Mary (Virgin Mary); The Christ Child; Devotion; Joy

Categories

Sculpture; Religion; Christianity

Collection code

SCP

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Qr_O70263
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