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An important italian terracotta relief of the madonna and child, by
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Modeled in half-length, the Child supported in her arms and on her right hip, His loose swaddling cloth partially covering His torso, the Virgin’s head inclined downward to the left; as He touches His cheek to hers, they gaze lovingly at one another, His left arm pulls at her neck and the right hand gently tugs on her bodice, the Madonna’s thin veil falls about her neck and shoulders revealing parts of her body beneath it, remainders of original polychromy and gilding.\nThe Borromeo Madonna by Donatello\n\n[Donatello’s Madonna reliefs] are some of the most personal works of art of the fifteenth century, they were in the long term some of the most influential, and they are central to an understanding of the creative psychology of the greatest Early Renaissance sculptor.\n-John Pope-Hennessy (Study and Criticism, op.cit., p.102)\nThis extraordinary relief of the Madonna and Child was designed and modeled in around 1450 by Donatello, arguably the most important sculptor of the Quattrocento and one of the most important sculptors in the entire Renaissance period. It is the first sculpture of the Madonna and Child by the master to be offered at auction within recent years.  The Quincy Shaw Madonna of the Clouds marble relief in the Boston Museum of Fine Arts is the only autograph relief by Donatello in the United States in the public domain. The present sculpture was previously known only in an altered state, covered with many layers of stucco and overpaint, considerably marring its beauty and legibility.  Fortunately, a recent extensive cleaning of the sculpture permits us, for the first time, to see it more or less as it looked at the time of its creation some 550 years ago.  Donatello combined astonishing naturalistic details with the portrayal of the profound emotional rapport between the Madonna and Child to create a major masterpiece of Renaissance art.\nExamination of the sculpture's composition, details, technique, documented history and context within Donatello’s oeuvre will follow, uniformly pointing to the conclusion that this relief was conceived and modeled by the master himself.\nHistorical Background\nIn the modern era, the Borromeo Madonna is first published in the 1925 Amsterdam sale catalogue of the Camillo Castiglioni collection with an attribution to Donatello. Castiglioni (1879-1957) was one of the most prominent Renaissance art collectors of his generation (fig. 2), and was advised by the scholars Otto von Falke and Leo Planiscig. Earlier provenance was not given in the catalogue. It was purchased at that auction by the prominent Munich dealers AS Drey.  By 1928, it was with the renowned Dutch Old Master dealer Jacques Goudstikker.  In 1989, it was sold by the Bern auction house Galerie Jurg Stuker to Galerie Knöll, Basel.  The relief next appeared, covered in many layers of paint and stucco, at Sotheby’s London in December 1990 with an attribution of ‘Circle of Donatello’ and an estimate on request.  It has since been thoroughly cleaned, transforming our understanding of the work.\n\nRecent research has shown that until 1902 the relief was in the church of San Giovanni Battista, in Lissaro di Mestrino, a small village six miles west of Padua.  According to officials of the church, it was sold in 1902 in order to buy an organ.  A copy of the sculpture was made at that time for the church and remains there today (fig. 4).  This copy is the same size as the present relief and precisely reproduces details of the sculpture, even damages, demonstrating that the copy was made from the present relief.  The copy is housed within a marble frame, which in style appears to date from around 1500 and was possibly made in the workshop of Pietro and Tullio Lombardo. This frame is likely to have been made for the present relief when it was first installed in the church during the Renaissance.\nOn behalf of the church, a local archivist has examined the connection between the Borromeo family and San Giovanni Battista.  Although originally from the village of San Miniato in Tuscany, the Borromeo had moved north to Lombardy and the Veneto following Guelf-Ghibelline violence in 1370.  A family of great wealth owing to their activities as bankers and merchants, they rapidly rose to positions of considerable stature in Milan, Padua and Venice.  Indeed, they were major bankers to the Visconti, the ruling family of Milan, as well as to the Carrara, the ruling family of Padua.\nBeginning in 1444 and continuing thereafter for several hundred years, the Borromeo family had exclusive patronage rights to San Giovanni Battista.  The church stood on a large plot of land owned by the Borromeo, next to a palace of the family (although recorded in documents and drawings, the palace was dismantled and the church rebuilt in the 19th century).   During the Renaissance, every documented priest of the church was a member of the Borromeo family and every known work of art in the church was commissioned by the Borromeo.\nIn the middle of the fifteenth century both Antonio Borromeo and his son Filippo Borromeo II were on the board of civilian overseers of the basilica of Sant’ Antonio in Padua (commonly referred to as the Santo), which was then and still remains one of the most important and wealthiest pilgrimage churches in all of Italy.  It was this board that commissioned Donatello to make the large bronze altarpiece for the high altar of the Santo.  Antonio Borromeo’s role in the administration of the project may have been of special importance.  In fact, documents survive from 27 May 1447 and 3 June 1447 (see Sartori, op.cit., p. 89), showing that he was issued two letters of credit to purchase the bronze for Donatello to make the altar.  Further, a meeting of Donatello with a board member named Antonio and others is recorded on 23 June 1447, and the document of this event indicates that this Antonio was among the men who negotiated Donatello’s pay for the narrative reliefs on the altar (see Sartori, op.cit., p. 89).\nGiven the Borromeo family’s involvement with Donatello on the making of the bronze altar for the Santo and the presence of a relief by Donatello in their family church in the nearby village of Lissaro, it is virtually certain the family acquired this relief from Donatello in the middle of the fifteenth century.  They may have purchased it from Donatello or it may have been a gift from the artist to Antonio Borromeo or another member of the family.  When the terracotta relief entered the church is uncertain, but it may have been placed there at the time of its acquisition.  On the other hand, the marble frame that houses the copy seems to have been custom-made for the relief and on the basis of style can be dated to around 1500.  It is worth noting that Bernardino Borromeo became the priest of the church in 1506; perhaps the frame was made at that time to honor the relief’s donation to church.  Another possibility is that the terracotta relief was first placed in the church during Filippo Borromeo III’s tenure as priest there between 1536 and 1539.  He was Antonio Borromeo’s great grandson and may have inherited the sculpture.  Filippo III, clearly interested in the visual embellishment of the church, also commissioned the high altar by Girolamo da Santacroce.\nAt this point mention must be made of another type of composition which reached its climax during [Donatello's] Paduan years, the Madonna relief.\n-John Pope-Hennessy (Italian Renaissance Sculpture, op.cit., p. 66)\nComposition, Technique and Authorship\nEvery detail of the sculpture finds exact parallels in the works of Donatello.\nThe Borromeo Madonna's veil resembles other veils by Donatello both in its parts and in its overall structure; moreover, the parts are combined and arranged to achieve the very same effects. The outline of the veil in the present sculpture forms a section of a circle, but one with several flattened segments.  This silhouette is identical to the veils of nearly all the major sculptures of the Madonna by Donatello, including the Brancacci Madonna (fig. 5), the Pazzi Madonna (fig. 6) , the Quincy Shaw Madonna (fig. 7), the Madonna in the bronze Lamentation group in the Victoria and Albert Museum (fig. 8), and the Madonna del Perdono in Siena (fig. 9).  One can also compare it with the veil on the head of Christ in the Resurrection panel on the bronze pulpit in San Lorenzo, Florence (fig. 10).\nThe veil is thin and “wet”: it seems to cling to the head, and to reveal the underlying forms. Especially remarkable is the way the veil adheres to the ear, even showing in relief the detailed structure of the outer ear.  Parallels for this in the work of Donatello include the Victoria and Albert terracotta Madonna (fig. 11), the Piot Madonna (fig. 12), the Louvre Madonna (fig. 13 ), and the Siena Madonna (fig. 9).  No other sculptor of the fifteenth century paid such close attention to this sort of naturalistic detail.\nAdditionally, the veil folds over itself as it falls at the side and twists at the back of the neck, helping the viewer’s eye to “turn the corner” and see the space behind the Madonna.  This can be compared with the same feature in the Brancacci Madonna (fig. 5), the Pazzi Madonna (fig. 6), the Quincy Shaw Madonna (fig. 7), the Louvre Madonna (fig. 13 ), the Madonna in the bronze Lamentation group in the Victoria and Albert Museum (fig. 8), and the veil on head of Christ in the Resurrection panel on the pulpit in San Lorenzo, Florence (fig. 10).\nThe veil falls forward on the far side of the face, providing a visual foil in front of which one reads the space of the Madonna’s head.  Again, this feature appears in the same core group of Madonnas by Donatello. It should also be noted that the veil from the back of the Madonna’s head to her shoulder forms a line indicating the pull of the drapery at this point.  This is comparable to a similar passage of drapery in the Quincy Shaw Madonna (fig. 7).\nThis combination of effects, the veil serving as a foil on the far side of the face and the veil folding over itself and twisting at the back of the neck, is characteristic of the master.  It was his desire to create a maximum effect of fictive space in a minimum depth of real space that drove him to achieve this powerful effect.\n\nThe present sculpture is in extremely low relief.  At its maximum depth, near the base, it is 10.1cm.   At its minimum depth, in the region of the baby’s neck and the veil hanging between the Madonna and Child, it is approximately 1cm deep.  Despite the extreme shallowness of the relief, the illusion of space in the relief is great, and the figures seem to be situated in a relatively deep space.  In front of the figures, the visual architecture of their arms provides the eye with a clear series of planes that recede into depth as they ascend the front of the sculpture.  Behind the figures, the combination of the effects of the veil and the act of the baby pulling on the back of the Madonna’s neck create a powerful sense of continuity of space.  The drapery around the baby’s hips and thighs forms a kind of pocket of space in which the baby sits; in this regard the present relief is comparable to the use of the drapery in the Louvre Madonna (fig. 13).  The aesthetic intentions seen in the present relief are the same as those that led him to invent the so-called "relievo schiacciato", a style of relief in which deep space was portrayed in extremely low relief.\n\nDonatello must be called the greatest sculptor of all time for his capacity to represent in his work the entire scope of human character and emotion.\n-        Charles Avery (Donatello, 1991, op.cit., p. 5).\nFurther parallels with Donatello's sculptures are evident in the present work.  In general design, the Madonna’s proper left hand and arm are comparable with the Louvre Madonna (fig. 13).  The pose of the fingers is exactly like that in Quincy Shaw Madonna (fig. 7), although in reverse.  The gentle pressing of fingers into the underside of baby’s thigh is a detail also found in the Louvre Madonna (fig. 13).\nThe Christ Child, too, bears witness to Donatello’s authorship of the relief.  This is perhaps seen most clearly in a comparison of his beautifully formed legs and feet with those of the Child in the Louvre Madonna (fig.13): they are virtually identical in scale, shape and placement.  The poignant gesture of the baby pulling at the top of Madonna’s gown is identical to that of the Infant Jesus in the Pazzi Madonna (fig. 6). Additionally, note the way that the hair at the back of the neck of the baby is pushed up by the action of raising His head; this too finds parallels in the Quincy Shaw Madonna (fig. 7).\nIn the present sculpture there is a long fold of drapery that falls down the Madonna’s front and forms a loop below her wrist before rising and turning over her forearm and behind the her left arm.  This detail can be compared with a passage in the drapery of the Cavalcanti Annunciation (fig. 14). The similarity between the two is best seen if you reverse the composition, as these two passages are almost mirror images of one another.  Further, the zig-zag fold of drapery by the Madonna’s proper left shoulder, seen dal di sotto in su, is virtually the same in form as the drapery passage near the bottom of the relief in the Madonna del Perdono in Siena (fig. 9).\nDonatello’s followers\n\nTo establish the authorship of the relief, it is best not only to show its close resemblance to other works by Donatello, but also to demonstrate why the work is not by one of Donatello’s many followers or pupils.  This is particularly important as Donatello had a large workshop during his time in Padua, and it was involved in the production of even his most important works there, such as the Bronze Altar for the Santo and the Gattamelata Monument.\n\nWith the exception of Michelangelo, no Tuscan sculptor has so marked an influence as Donatello upon the art of his time.\n- Charles Perkins (Tuscan Sculptors, op.cit., 1864)\n\nThe largest and most prestigious sculpture by a Paduan follower of Donatello is the terracotta altarpiece in the Ovetari Chapel (fig. 15) in the church of the Eremitani in Padua.  This was commissioned in 1448 and was executed by Nicolo Pizzolo and Giovanni da Pisa, artists who had formerly been Donatello’s assistants.\nThe Ovetari altarpiece is indeed similar to the Borromeo Madonna in two respects: the typology of the Madonna, especially the general arrangement of the veil over her forehead, and the use of “wet” and agitated drapery.  In other ways, however, the two sculptures are notably different.\nA chief difference is in the depth of the modeling and the illusion of space.  In the Borromeo Madonna, the depth of the relief is extremely shallow, and yet the illusion of space is profound.  In the Ovetari altarpiece, the depth of the relief is great, and yet the illusion of the space is shallow.  The figures on the altarpiece are composed of planes that do not curve back into space.  At the edge of contact between the figure and the background of the relief, the figure appears awkward and hesitant, as if the sculptor was uncertain how to make the transition from high relief to background and how to make the sculpture appear to recede into the depth.   Further, no forms anywhere in the altarpiece are foreshortened.  Moreover, the Madonna and Child’s faces and bodies are completely different in these two sculptures.  In the Ovetari altarpiece (fig. 15) their faces are pudgy and inelegant; they lack both the naturalism and the idealism of the figures in the Borromeo relief.  In the Ovetari altarpiece, the Child’s body is compact and devoid of grace.  His legs and feet are completely different from those of the Child in the Louvre Madonna (fig. 13) and in the Borromeo Madonna. In the Ovetari altarpiece, the Child's upper chest is treated as a relatively simple block-like form with little modulation, whereas in the Borromeo Madonna, the torso is beautifully shaped with subtle, naturalistic detail and it is perfectly foreshortened in a minimum of space.\n\n[Donatello's] work showed such excellent qualities of grace and design that it was considered nearer than was done by the ancient Greeks and Romans than that of any other artist ….He was superior not only to his contemporaries but even to the artists of our own time.\n-        Giorgio Vasari (Lives, op.cit., 1568)\n\nThe drapery in the two reliefs, although similar in conception, is extremely different in treatment.  In the Ovetari altarpiece, it is neither thin nor subtle, and it does not reveal underlying forms.  Rather, it hangs in thick bands, which even at their thinnest passages look more like sheets of uncooked pasta than like fabric.\n\nScholars have noted that the two sides of the altarpiece manifest minor changes in stylistic emphasis that indicate the presence of two or more artists.  The Borromeo Madonna, however, is far more different from either side of the altarpiece than the two sides are one from the other. There can be no doubt that the Borromeo Madonna is by a different artist than the sculptor or sculptors who made the Ovetari altarpiece.\nIn addition to the Ovetari altarpiece, seven other Madonna and Child reliefs have been identified as products of the followers or associates of Donatello in Padua.  These are as follows:\n\n1. Follower of Donatello, Madonna and Child, Yerevan, Museum of Art (Jolly, op.cit., pl. 24)\n2. Follower of Donatello, Variation of the Verona Madonna, Padua, Eremitani Church (Jolly, op.cit., pl. 52)\n3. Follower of Donatello, Madonna and Child, Padua, Eremitani Church (Jolly, op.cit., pl. 54)\n4. Bellano (?), Amsterdam Madonna, Amsterdam, Rijksmuseum (Jolly, op.cit., pl. 139)\n5. Bellano (?), Crowned Madonna Embracing her Child, formerly London art market (Jolly, op.cit., pl.140)\n6. Nicolo Pizzolo, Madonna and Child, Berlin, Staatliche Museen (Schottmuller, op.cit., no. 268);\n7. Padua, mid-fifteenth century, Virgin and Child, Victoria and Albert Museum (Pope-Hennessy,1964, op.cit., pp.331ff).\nThe dissimilarities of these works to the Borromeo Madonna are further proof that Donatello, not an assistant or follower, is the author of this relief.  For example, in the Borromeo Madonna the outline of the veil appears as a partial circle with flattened sections; none of the other sculptures by the followers shares this feature (note especially the differences evident in the Ovetari altar Madonna and the Berlin Madonna of Pizzolo).  Furthermore, in the Borromeo Madonna the drapery is thin, wet, and agitated.  While some of these sculptures share this feature, none shows the drapery revealing underlying form, and none records the impression of details as subtle as the inner structure of the outer ear.  The Borromeo Madonna’s veil twists over itself as it falls. Only the Yerevan Madonna’s veil has twisting folds, while the others fall in flat, simple sheets.  This is a significant difference as the Florentine followers of Donatello were aware of this feature in his work and imitated it.  As discussed, the Borromeo Madonna’s veil falls on the far side of the face to provide a foil.  None of these sculptures, with the possible exception of the Bellano in Amsterdam, is comparable.  Finally, only the Yerevan example is comparable in the depiction of the outline along the back of the veil from the back of the head to the shoulder.\n\nAs already discussed, in terms of its treatment of space, the present sculpture bears close affinities with Donatello’s work in three ways: it is shallow in the manner characteristic of “relievo schiacciato” invented by Donatello; it has a clear scaffold of planes that provides a series of clues for the eye to read the recession of space into depth; and it uses the veil and the extension of the Child’s arm behind and around the Madonna’s neck to help create space behind the figures.  None of the sculptures by the Paduan followers of Donatello demonstrates these features.\nWhat is more, the anatomical details of the Borromeo Madonna find close parallels with those in Donatello's works but are dissimilar from those in the works of his followers.  Indeed, the only point of comparison is the general design of the Borromeo Madonna’s left hand and arm with the same element in the Ovetari altarpiece (fig. 15).  Yet, while the pose of the fingers is similar, the two works are very different in terms of the level of observation and description.  In the Borromeo Madonna, the fingers and hand grip the baby’s thigh and pull against the drapery.  In the Ovetari Madonna (fig. 15), the hand is pushed up against the baby but does not actually seem to actively work at either supporting the baby or pulling against the drapery. There are similarities with the Ovetari Madonna and, less so, with the Berlin Madonna of Pizzolo in the play of the fingers with the drapery; but, as noted above, the sense of action is not the same.  No other Madonna by a Paduan follower of Donatello shows the Madonna’s fingers pressing into the thigh of the baby as the Borromeo Madonna does, and no other sculpture by a Paduan follower shows the baby pulling at her shirt or the hair pushed up at the back of the baby’s neck, including the Berlin Madonna of Pizzolo where the possibility presents itself.   In addition, only the Ovetari Madonna shows a feature akin to the loop of drapery in the Cavalcanti Annunciation (fig. 14).  The subtle detail of the incised line below the eye does not appear in any other sculpture by a follower of Donatello, including the Ovetari Madonna and the Berlin Madonna of Pizzolo.  In the treatment of the baby’s feet, no other example is closely related to that of the Borromeo Madonna and the Louvre Madonna (fig. 13).  The only example bearing some affinity is in the variant of the Verona Madonna in the Eremitani, and there the viewpoint is entirely different.\nThese comparisons show that the Madonna and Child reliefs by Donatello’s followers differ markedly in many fundamental ways from both the Borromeo Madonna and from other works by Donatello.  Of all the Paduan works by his followers, the only one that bears any resemblance to the Borromeo Madonna is the relief in the Ovetari Chapel, but as discussed, this resemblance is only in the typology of the Madonna and in the idea of agitated and “wet” drapery, whereas nearly all other features of the relief are unalike.  The common features are likely due to the influence of Donatello on Pizzolo and Giovanni da Pisa.\nGiven the thinness of the terracotta it is possible that the relief was originally made to serve as a model rather than as an independent work of art. It was a practice among Florentine Renaissance sculptors to sell their models once they had served their initial purpose; the most famous example of this practice is Benedetto da Maiano, who made a regular practice of this.  It may have been the case with the present sculpture. Alternatively, it is possible that Donatello presented it as a gift to Antonio Borromeo or another member of the family who was involved with the commission and administration of  the work on the bronze altar at the Santo.  Since there are stylistic parallels for this relief in both Donatello's marble and bronze sculptures it cannot be said definitively in which medium the final work would have been, nor, indeed, is there any evidence that such a work was completed.  However, it is worth observing that the depth of this terracotta is highly comparable to that of Donatello's bronze reliefs, including, the reliefs he made for the Bronze Altar in Padua.\n\nThe present work illustrates the master’s extraordinary technique and unique ability to illustrate deep emotion and realism in a very shallow space.  His mastery in applying a humanistic approach to a spiritual subject is apparent through his moving depiction of the relationship between the Madonna and Child.  The expressiveness of the faces and gestures -- the way the Virgin’s eyes turn away from the viewer toward her Child, the Child gently pulling His mother toward Him by tugging at her gown, and the way in which the Virgin gently wraps the Child in her cloak to protect Him -- create an intense emotional rapport between the figures.\nUnlike so many artists, Donatello gained great recognition within his own lifetime and his unimpeachable reputation has remained strong ever since. His Madonna and Child reliefs, made in a remarkable variety of materials, became a prototype for the next generation of sculptors. This beautiful sculpture, probably one of the last reliefs of this subject made by the master, demonstrates why Donatello was so profoundly influential and revered for centuries.\nDonatello [Donato di Niccolo di Betto Bardi]\n(b Florence, 1386 or 1387; d Florence, 13 Dec 1466).\n\nAmong the five artists Leon Battista Alberti mentions as the founding fathers of the new art in the prologue of his Della pittura- Masaccio, Brunelleschi, Ghiberti, Donatello and Luca della Robbia- three are sculptors, but none of them influenced Italian sculpture alone, as decisively as Donatello.\n-Prof. Artur Rosenauer (Darr, op.cit., p.27)\nDonatello’s early training took place in the sculptor Lorenzo Ghiberti’s workshop where he apprenticed from 1404-1407, a period when Ghiberti was preparing the models for the bronze reliefs on the north doors of the Baptistry in Florence.\nIn 1408, the young master received a commission to carve figures of the Evangelists for the niches on the facade of the Florence Cathedral.  In that same year, he was commissioned to make a full-size marble statue of David (now in the Bargello, Florence) for the Cathedral, a few years later placed in the Palazzo della Signoria by the Florentine City Council.\nIn 1411, Donatello was commissioned by the Linen Draper’s Guild to carve a standing figure, St. Mark, for their niche on the Guildhall of Orsanmichele; this sculpture is often considered the first Renaissance statue.  It was followed in 1417 by a commission from the Guild of Armourers for a statue of St. George, also for Orsanmichele, one of the most celebrated sculptures in Florence.  A marble panel of St. George and the Dragon (fig.16), circa 1417, was created for the foot of the niche containing the St. George figure.  This work exemplifies Donatello's innovative method of carving marble in extremely shallow relief. Donatello's method of carving or almost drawing on marble, commonly called "rilievo schiacciato", was a new and extremely effective way of creating pictorial space within a relief composition.\nDonatello received the commission to complete one of the bronze reliefs for the font in the Siena Baptistry in 1423.  He subsequently created for the font two bronze figures of Virtues (1428–9), a bronze door for its tabernacle (1429), and three bronze putti (completed 1434).  In 1423–25 Donatello completed the gilded bronze figure of Saint Louis of Toulouse, commissioned by the Parte Guelfa to fill its niche on the façade of Orsanmichele in Florence. From 1425 to 1432–3 Donatello shared a studio with Michelozzo; among the works on which they collaborated are the Brancacci Monument at S. Angelo a Nilo in Naples, the Monument of Pope John XXIII in the Baptistry in Florence, and the external pulpit at the Cathedral in Prato.\nIn the 1430s, Donatello carved a sacramental tabernacle for St. Peter’s (circa 1432), incorporating a scene of the Entombment, and also created the famous Singing Gallery (Cantoria) (fig.17) for the Florence Cathedral (1433-9) made to pair with the one earlier commissioned from Luca della Robbia.  In these years he also made the monumental stucco and terracotta reliefs and the bronze doors for the Old Sacristy of St. Lorenzo in Florence, the principle church of the Medici family.  A close friend of Cosimo de' Medici, Donatello also completed a bronze statue of David (fig. 19) for the Medici family palace at about this time.  It was the first lifesize nude male sculpture since Antiquity.\nIn 1443, the sculptor left Florence for Padua where his first commission was for a life-size bronze Crucifix (1441-9) for the basilica of S. Antonio (the Santo). He also made the bronze high altar for the Santo which consisted of seven life-size bronze statues and almost two dozen reliefs.  Approximately fourteen feet wide, it was one of the largest altarpieces of the Renaissance, and was immensely influential on Mantegna, Bellini and other Italian artists.\nDonatello’s interest in antiquity was also manifest in his revival of the ancient Roman equestrian monument.  From 1447-53 he created the magnificent bronze monument to Erasmo da Narni, known as Gattamelata, a deceased captain-general of the Venetian army (fig.18).  Echoing the famous Marcus Aurelius statue in Rome, Donatello’s Gattamelata is the earliest surviving equestrian statue from the Renaissance period.\n\nIn the early 1450s, Donatello returned to Florence but soon after moved to Siena briefly to work on bronze doors for the cathedral and a large marble roundel of the Virgin and Child over the Porta del Perdono of the cathedral, the Madonna del Perdono (fig. 9). His bronze statue of Saint John the Baptist in the duomo of Siena dates from this period. At roughly the same time, he made the bronze Judith and Holofernes for Piero de' Medici.\nFrom circa 1460 until his death in 1466 Donatello was occupied with the intensively expressive narrative reliefs in bronze for the two pulpits in the Church of San Lorenzo in Florence.  He was assisted on this project by his pupil Bertoldo, who completed the reliefs after Donatello’s death.  Although not erected in the church until the early 16th century, these reliefs had an immediate and profound impact on late Quattrocento Florentine artists, including Botticelli and Leonardo da Vinci. At the insistence of Cosimo de’ Medici, Donatello was buried in the crypt of San Lorenzo, a significant honor.\nAlong with Brunelleschi and Masaccio, Donatello was a primary participant in the invention of the Renaissance style in the visual arts.  His preeminence was recognized in his own day and it has been celebrated ever since.\nSold with a thermoluminescence analysis report from Oxford Authentication stating that the sample (N105y82) was last fired between 400 and 700 years ago.\nWe are extremely grateful to Anthony Radcliffe for his invaluable contributions to this entry.
US
NY, US
US

dimensions

Height 32½in; width 20½in; 81.2cm; 50.8cm

exhibition

Italiaanische Kunst in Nederlandsch Bezit, exh. cat., Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam, 1 July – 1 October 1934

literature

Catalogue des Nouvelles Acquisitions de la Collection Goudstikker, Amsterdam, October -November 1928, no. 35, cat. no. 8 (illus.) Anna Jolly, Madonnas by Donatello and his circle, Frankfurt and New York, 1998, pl. 41, p. 119, cat. 24.4 RELATED LITERATURE C. Avery and A. Radcliffe, 'The ‘Chellini Madonna’ by Donatello', in: The Burlington Magazine, 118, 1976, pp. 377-87 C. Avery: ‘Donatello’s Madonnas Reconsidered’, Apollo, cxxiv,1986, pp. 174–82 C. Avery: ‘Donatello’s Madonnas Revisited’, Donatello-Studien, Italienische Forschungen, Munich, 1989, pp. 219–34; reprod. In C. Avery, Studies in Italian Sculpture, London, 2001, pp. 20-60 C. Avery, Donatello. Catalogo completo delle opere, Florence,1991 Italian Renaissance Sculpture in the Time of Donatello (exh. cat.), ed. A. P. Darr; Detroit, MI, Inst. A., 1985 H.W. Janson, The Sculpture of Donatello, 2 vols., 1957 Grove Art Online, Oxford University Press, 2005 C.C. Perkins, Tuscan Sculptors: Their Lives, Works and Times, 2 vols (London, 1864) J. Pope-Hennessy, Italian Renaissance Sculpture, London, 1958, rev. 3/New York, 1985 J. Pope-Hennessy, Catalogue of Italian Sculpture in the Victoria and Albert  Museum, London, 1964 J. Pope-Hennessy, Essays on Italian Sculpture, London, 1968 J. Pope-Hennessy, Donatello Sculptor, London, Paris and New York, 1993 J. Pope-Hennessy, ‘The Madonna Reliefs of Donatello’, Apollo, cii,1976, pp. 172–91; reprod. in J. Pope-Hennessy: The Study and Criticism of Italian Sculpture, Princeton, 1980, pp. 71–105 A. Sartori, Documenti per la Storia dell’arte Padua, Padua 1976, p. 89 F. Schottmuller, Donatello, Munich, 1904 G. Vasari, (translated by George Bull) Lives of the Artists, vol. I, England, reprinted 1965, pp. 174-190

provenance

Church of San Giovanni Battista, in Lissaro di Mestrino, until 1902 Camillo Castiglioni Collection, Vienna (acquired in 1902), his sale Frederik Muller, Amsterdam, November 17-20,1925, lot 90 (NLG 2,800) AS Drey Munich, acquired at the above sale O Rathgeber, Berlin (possibly) Kunsthandel J Goudstikker NV, Amsterdam (by 1928 until May 1940 and the invasion of the Netherlands; acquired from the above for NLG 12,000) Auktionhaus Stuker, Bern, 24 November-2 December, 1989, lot 4003, as a wood relief Galerie Knöll, Basel European Private Collection Sotheby’s London, December 13, 1990, lot 34, over-painted and as ‘circle of Donatello’ (unsold)

consignmentDesignation

Sold in cooperation with the heir of Jacques Goudstikker and Kunsthandel J. Goudstikker NV, now known as amsterdamse negotiatie compagnie n.v., in liquidation


*Note: The price is not recalculated to the current value. It refers to the actual final price at the time the item was sold.

*Note: The price is not recalculated to the current value. It refers to the actual final price at the time the item was sold.


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