Poised tiptoe on a globe, this chubby cherub seems to pirouette, inviting interest from all angles. His complex movement in space is remarkable for a date so early in the Renaissance. Also remarkable is that his projecting limbs have survived for more than five hundred years. This cupid is indeed a rarity -- a model in unfired clay.
It is possible that Putto Poised on a Globe served as a model for a bronze fountain figure. Verrocchio made a similar cupid fountain for Florence's Medici family. The National Gallery's boy has puffed out cheeks, pursed lips, and an outstretched arm, suggesting he may have directed a stream of water to a toy pinwheel or similar object. It is also possible that the entire piece rotated; a contemporary of Verrocchio's described a fountain in which the artist used water to spin a statue.
Verrocchio was Florence's leading sculptor in the second half of the fifteenth century. Versatile and inventive, he was also a painter and goldsmith.
ANDREA DEL VERROCCHIO
Putto Poised on a Globe
MATERIAL: Unbaked clay
DIMENSIONS: 75 x 38.3 x 23 cm (29 1/2 x 15 x 11 3/4 in.)
COLLECTION: National Gallery of Art, Washington DC. Andrew W. Mellon Collection
ACCESSION NUMBER: 1937.1.128