Singing Gallery (Cantoria) thumbnail 1
Image of Gallery in South Kensington
On display at V&A South Kensington
Raphael, Room 48a, The Raphael Cartoons

Singing Gallery (Cantoria)

ca. 1495 (made)
Artist/Maker
Place Of Origin

This organ loft or singing gallery (cantoria) in carrara marble was sculptured by Baccio d'Agnolo in Florence in ca. 1495.

The Cantoria was purchased for the museum after its removal from Santa Maria Novella, Florence, during a drastic remodelling of the interior of the church (1859). Vasari mentions it in his life of Baccio d'Agnolo among a number of early works which are mostly in wood and include intarsia work of the choir stalls and the superstructure of the high altar in Santa Maria Novella.


object details
Categories
Object Type
Materials and Techniques
Marble
Brief Description
Cantoria in Carrara marble, by Baccio d'Agnolo, Florence, ca. 1495
Physical Description
The gallery is in the form of a projecting balcony supported by four consoles decorated with acanthus leaves. On the wall between the consoles are three rectangular slabs of pietra di paragone, inset with circular marble medallions, that in the centre carved with a cherub head surrounded by rays and those at the sides with the words OPA. The front of the balcony is formed by three oblong reliefs separated by ornamented pilasters. These are carved with (left to the right) a shield with the Florentine lily superimposed on a wreath. The end panels show (left) a shield with a bend with the words LIBERTAS and a label of Anjou, and (right) a device of three flowering lily branches tied with a scroll. Above is a protruding cornice. The underside of the balcony is divided into three sections by the consoles. Each of these is decorated with a rosette in a rectangular frame.
Dimensions
  • Height: 229.6cm
  • Length: 492.8cm
Object history
The Cantoria was purchased for the museum after its removal from Santa Maria Novella, Florence, during a drastic remodelling of the interior of the church (1859). Vasari mentions it in his life of Baccio d'Agnolo among a number of early works which are mostly in wood and include intarsia work of the choir stalls and the superstructure of the high altar in Santa Maria Novella. These were executed between 1491 and 1496, so the Cantoria probably dates from that period. It is one of Baccio's earliest works in marble. The monogram OPA (in two roundels between the consoles) was the device of the Opera di Santa Maria del Fiore or "board of works" of the Cathedral. The coat-of-arms, with the Florentine lily and the word LIBERTAS, make it certain that the Cantoria was commissioned by the Republic of Florence , and it must therefore date from after the expulsion of Piero de' Medici (1494). The device of a cherub head surrounded by rays (central roundel between the consoles) is the emblem of Santa Maria Novella.
Subjects depicted
Summary
This organ loft or singing gallery (cantoria) in carrara marble was sculptured by Baccio d'Agnolo in Florence in ca. 1495.



The Cantoria was purchased for the museum after its removal from Santa Maria Novella, Florence, during a drastic remodelling of the interior of the church (1859). Vasari mentions it in his life of Baccio d'Agnolo among a number of early works which are mostly in wood and include intarsia work of the choir stalls and the superstructure of the high altar in Santa Maria Novella.
Associated Object
Bibliographic References
  • Inventory of Art Objects Acquired in the Year 1859. 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. 38
  • 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. 188-91
  • Wainwright, Clive. "Shopping for South Kensington. Fortnum and Henry Cole in Florence 1858-1859". Journal of the History of Collections. 11, no. 2, 1999, pp. 181-2, 185 n. 37
Collection
Accession Number
5895-1859

About this object record

Explore the Collections contains over a million catalogue records, and over half a million images. It is a working database that includes information compiled over the life of the museum. Some of our records may contain offensive and discriminatory language, or reflect outdated ideas, practice and analysis. We are committed to addressing these issues, and to review and update our records accordingly.

You can write to us to suggest improvements to the record.

Suggest Feedback

record createdAugust 20, 2008
Record URL