Overview

The popular Florentine subject of the young John the Baptist is here presented in a different conception from that of Antonio Rossellino's delicately beautiful marble bust. The difference is not only in the medium, painted terra cotta, which has retained much original coloring that contributes to an immediate naturalism. The sculptor of this bust also has given it a particular psychological intensity. The face is thinner; the features relatively individualized; and the gaze distant in a way that from some angles suggests inward concentration on his message, from others suggests focus on some faraway listener. The long, richly modeled and differentiated hair is at once elegant in its swirling waves and unruly in its loose wisps, suggesting passionate energy that is reiterated by the cloak sweeping across the chest to twist into a knot at one side. The open mouth implies the saint is already preaching.

Inscription

Marks and Labels

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Provenance

Possibly purchased 1846 in Italy by Eugène Piot [1812-1890], Paris.[1] Louis-Charles Timbal [1821-1880], Paris, by 1868;[2] purchased 1872 with the entire Timbal collection by Gustave Dreyfus [1837-1914], Paris;[3] his estate; purchased 1930 with the entire Dreyfus collection by (Duveen Brothers, Inc., London, New York, and Paris); purchased 15 December 1936 by The A.W. Mellon Educational and Charitable Trust, Pittsburgh;[4] gift 1937 to NGA.

Exhibition History

1874
Objets d'Art, Exposés au profit de la Colonisation de l'Algèrie par les Alsaciens-Lorrains, Palais de la Prèsidence du Corps lègislatif, Paris, 1874, no. 34 of Salon 13.
1932
Sculpture and Medals of the Renaissance from the Dreyfus Collection, Fogg Art Museum, Cambridge, Massachusetts, 1932, as by Donatello.

Bibliography

1868
Perkins, Charles. "Donatello." Gazette des Beaux-Arts 25 (October 1868): 312.
1907
Vitry, Paul. "La collection de M. Gustave Dreyfus: I. - La Sculpture." Les Arts 72 (December 1907): repro. 5, 9-10.
1921
Bode, Wilhelm von. Florentiner Bildhauer der Renaissance. Berlin, 1921: 219.
1928
Bode, Wilhelm von. Florentine Sculptors of the Renaissance. Translated by Jessie Haynes. Revised 2nd edition. London, 1928: 157. (Reprint, New York, 1969).
1930
Rutter, Frank. "Notes from Abroad. The Dreyfus Collection - Other Notes." International Studio 97 (September 1930): 60-64, esp 60.
1932
Rowlandson, Benjamin, Jr. "The Dreyfus Collection. A Review of the Exhibition." Bulletin of the Fogg Art Museum 1 (March 1932): 54-56, repro.
1937
Cortissoz, Royal. An Introduction to the Mellon Collection. Boston, 1937: repro. opposite p. 19, as by Donatello.
1937
Jewell, Edward Alden. "Mellon's Gift." Magazine of Art 30, no. 2 (February 1937): 73-83, esp. 83, repro.
1937
Wittkower, Rudolf. "Sculpture in the Mellon Collection." Apollo 26, n. 152 (August 1937): 79-84, esp. 84, repro. 80.
1941
Frankfurter, Alfred M. “Great Sculpture of the Italian Renaissance in the National Gallery.” Art News 40, n. 9 (July 1-31, 1941): 8.
1941
Frankfurter, Alfred M. "On the Italian Renaissance Painters in the National Gallery." Art News 40 (15-31 March 1941): 13, repro.
1941
Preliminary Catalogue of Paintings and Sculpture. National Gallery of Art, Washington, 1941: 223, no. A-19, as Bust of Saint John the Baptist by Donatello.
1942
Book of Illustrations. National Gallery of Art, Washington, 1942: 253, repro. 227, as Bust of St. John the Baptist by Donatello.
1944
Duveen Brothers, Inc. Duveen Sculpture in Public Collections of America: A Catalog Raisonné with illustrations of Italian Renaissance Sculptures by the Great Masters which have passed through the House of Duveen. New York, 1944: figs. 15-16, as by Donatello.
1949
Paintings and Sculpture from the Mellon Collection. National Gallery of Art, Washington, 1949 (reprinted 1953 and 1958): 149, repro., as by Donatello.
1949
Seymour, Charles. Masterpieces of Sculpture from the National Gallery of Art. Washington and New York, 1949: 175 n. 18, 72-73, as by Donatallo.
1962
Ida Cardellini, Ida. Desiderio da Settignano. Milan, 1962: 88 n. 17.
1965
Summary Catalogue of European Paintings and Sculpture. National Gallery of Art, Washington, 1965: 153, as by Donatello.
1968
European Paintings and Sculpture, Illustrations. National Gallery of Art, Washington, 1968: 136, repro. , as by Donatello.
1984
Walker, John. National Gallery of Art, Washington. Rev. ed. New York, 1984: 631, no. 981, repro., as Studio of Benedetto da Maiano.
1990
Luchs, Alison. "Duveen, the Dreyfus Collection, and the Treatment of Italian Renaissance Sculpture: Examples from the National Gallery of Art." Studies in the History of Art 24 (1990): 34-35, repro.
1992
National Gallery of Art. National Gallery of Art, Washington. New York, 1992: 290, repro.
1994
Sculpture: An Illustrated Catalogue. National Gallery of Art, Washington, 1994: 28, repro.
2007
Pisani, Linda. "San Giovannino Battista nei busti del Rinascimento Florentino." In Jeanette Kohl and Rebecca Müller, eds. Kopf/Bild: Die Büste in Mittelalter und Frïher Neuzeit. (I Mandorli 6) Munich and Berlin, 2007: 232, no. 27.
2011
Knuth, Michael. "Desiderio da Settignano und seinem Umkreis zugeschriebene Bildwerke in Berlin." In Alessandro Nova, Beatrice Paolozzi Strozzi, and Gerhard Wolf, eds. Desiderio da Settignano. Venice, 2011: 199, repro. 203, as Florentine, second half fifteenth century (?).

Technical Summary

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