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Virgin and Child

  • Object:

    Relief

  • Place of origin:

    Florence (made)

  • Date:

    ca. 1386-1466 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Donatello, born 1386 - died 1466 (sculptor)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Cast bronze

  • Museum number:

    7474-1861

  • Gallery location:

    Medieval & Renaissance, Room 64a, The Robert H. Smith Gallery, case 4

Small, portable bronze plaquettes like this one may have been used for personal devotion in fifteenth century Italy, and were also collected by princes and scholars.

Images of the Virgin and Child were believed to have talismatic and protective properties. Some compositions, particularly those associated with miracle-working images, became very popular and were widely reproduced.

Donatello was probably responsible for the original design of this example, and this plaquette may have been made in his workshop. Other versions of the plaquette still exist, and the design was also copied in other media, including silver and terracotta. There is a stucco relief in the V&A collection (museum number A.45-1926) with the same design, which was probably cast from another, earlier version of the plaquette.

Physical description

The Virgin and Child, bronze plaquette. The Virgin, half-length, turns her face in profile to the right, holding on her left arm the Child, who is baring her breast with his right hand. Plain cable-like aureoles. Flat rim. Pale patina.

Place of Origin

Florence (made)

Date

ca. 1386-1466 (made)

Artist/maker

Donatello, born 1386 - died 1466 (sculptor)

Materials and Techniques

Cast bronze

Dimensions

Height: 11.6 cm, Width: 9.4 cm, Depth: 0.4 cm

Object history note

Acquired in Rome, 1l.

Historical significance: Images of the Virgin and Child were believed to have talismatic and protective properties. Some compositions, particularly those associated with miracle-working images, became very popular and were widely reproduced.

Descriptive line

Plaquette, bronze, The Virgin and Child, after Donatello, Italy (Florence), mid 15th century

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

Avery, Charles. Donatello: An Introduction. New York: Icon Editions, 1994, p.45
Jolly, Anna. Madonnas by Donatello and his circle. PhD Thesis, Cambridge University, 1992, pp. 21, 33-4, 65, cat. 43.4, 125-128, pl. 83.
Pope-Hennessy, John. Donatello: Sculptor. New York and London: Abbeville Press, 1993, pp. 252-3, 343 n.
Depth of Field: The place of relief in the time of Donatello. Catalogue of the exhibition held at the Henry Moore Institute, Leeds, 23 September 2004 - 27 March 2005. Cat. 16, p. 82.
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. 32
Natale, M. and Ritschard, C. Falsifications Manipulations Pastiches L'art d'imiter. Images de la Renaissance Italienne au Musée d'art et d'histoire. Geneva: 1997, n. 14.
Maclagan, Eric. Catalogue of Italian Plaquettes . London: Victoria and Albert Museum, 1924, p. 16
Curtis, Penelope, Depth of Field: the place of relief in the time of Donatello, Leeds: Henry Moore Institute, 2004

Materials

Bronze

Techniques

Casting

Subjects depicted

Mothers; Breast-feeding; Maternity; Halo; Saints; Infants

Categories

Sculpture; Religion; Christianity; Plaques & Plaquettes

Collection

Sculpture Collection

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