National Gallery of Art - THE COLLECTION
image of Madonna and Child Florentine 15th Century (sculptor)
Madonna and Child, c. 1425
painted and gilded terracotta
overall: 120.8 x 47.2 x 33.5 cm (47 9/16 x 18 9/16 x 13 3/16 in.)
Andrew W. Mellon Collection
Not on View
From the Tour: 15th-Century Sculpture in Tuscany
Object 2 of 6

This painted terracotta (baked clay) statue is an example of the Italian Renaissance interest in bringing a new naturalism to images of sacred figures.

A strong and active young woman, Mary stands in classical contrapposto, with her weight borne on her left leg and her right leg relaxed. She thrusts her left hip out to counterbalance the weight of the sturdy infant she holds in her arms. Along with her pose and Greek profile, several elements of the Virgin's costume, such as her sandals and the palmette decorations on her cuffs, also reveal the sculptor’s interest in the classical past. The Christ child is especially charming, holding his left hand shyly to his mouth as he turns his head to look at the viewer. To a fifteenth-century audience, Jesus’ nudity would have been understood as a mark of his humility and humanity. This earthly quality is enhanced by the naturalistic coloring of the figures.

In its human dignity and emotional appeal, this Madonna and Child is reminiscent of works by the Florentine master Donatello (about 1385–1466).

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