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Golden curls and the sweep of gilded drapery give this Virgin Mary the look of a medieval princess. But twisting within her grasp is a vigorous nude child, whose representation suggests studies of nature and ancient sculpture characteristic of the Renaissance. This polychromed high relief may have been created for household devotion or for placement above a church altar. The painter who colored it turned the heads of the nails —  which secure the clay figures to a wooden board — into elements of the design, and hatched the shadowed areas to emphasize the bold modeling by a sculptor who was familiar with the works of Florentine masters Ghiberti and Donatello.


on base, on front: AVE.MARIA.GRATIA.PRENA (sic)


Possibly S. Spirito, Florence.[1] Dr. Eduard Simon [1864-1929], Berlin; (his sale, Galerie Paul Cassirer, Berlin, 10-11 October 1929, no. 32). (A.S. Drey, New York), by 1930.[2] Clarence H. Mackay [1874-1938], Roslyn, New York; acquired from his estate by (Duveen Brothers, Inc., London and New York), by May 1940;[3] sold 1941 to the Samuel H. Kress Foundation, New York; gift 1943 to NGA.

Exhibition History

Kaiser Friedrich Museum, Berlin, 1914, no. 204.
Recent Additions to the Kress Collection, National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C., 1946, no. A-147.
La Primavera del Rinascimento: La Scultura e le Arti a Firenze 1400-1460, Palazzo Strozzi, Florence; Musée du Louvre, Paris, 2013-2014, no. VIII.8, repro.


Bode, Wilhelm von. "Lorenzo Ghiberti." Berlin Jahrbuch 35 (1914): 80, repro.
Bode, Wilhelm von. Florentiner Bildhauer der Renaissance. 4th ed. Berlin, 1921: 83, repro.
Bode, Wilhelm von. Florentine Sculptors of the Renaissance. Translated by Jessie Haynes. Rev. 2nd ed. London, 1928: 66, repro. (Reprint, New York, 1969).
"Rare Paintings and Sculptures." Art News (29 March 1930): 3, repro.
Krautheimer, Richard. "Terra Cotta Madonnas." Parnassus (December 1936): 5-8, 37, fig. 5.
Art Digest (15 May 1940): 8.
Art News (11 May 1940): 13, repr.
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. 1-4, as by Lorenzo Ghiberti.
Frankfurter, Alfred M. The Kress Collection in the National Gallery. New York, 1944: 9, repro., as by Lorenzo Ghiberti.
Paintings and Sculpture from the Kress Collection. National Gallery of Art, Washington, 1945 (reprinted 1947, 1949): 176, repro., as by Lorenzo Ghiberti.
Goldschider, Ludwig. Ghiberti. New York, 1949: pl. 121.
Seymour, Charles. Masterpieces of Sculpture from the National Gallery of Art. Washington and New York, 1949: 174, note 14, repro. 57, 58, 60, as by Lorenzo Ghiberti.
Hartt, Frederick. 'Review: Charles Seymour Jr., Masterpieces of Sculpture from the National Gallery of Art." College Art Journal 10 (Winter 1951): 205.
Pope-Hennessy, John. 'Review: Masterpieces of Sculpture from the National Gallery of Art by Charles Seymour." The Burlington Magazine 93, no. 576 (March 1951): 98.
Pope-Hennessy, John. Italian Gothic Sculpture. New York, 1955: 215-216.
Paintings and Sculpture from the Samuel H. Kress Collection. National Gallery of Art, Washington, 1959: 396, repro., as by Lorenzo Ghiberti.
Walker, John, Guy Emerson, and Charles Seymour. Art Treasures for America: An Anthology of Paintings & Sculpture in the Samuel H. Kress Collection. London, 1961: 42-43, color repro.
Ragghianti, Carlo L. "Novità per Jacopo della Quercia." Critica d'Arte 12, n.s. fasc. 75 (November 1965): 35-47, fig. 16.
Summary Catalogue of European Paintings and Sculpture. National Gallery of Art, Washington, 1965: 157, as by Ghiberti.
National Gallery of Art. European Paintings and Sculpture, Illustrations. Washington, 1968: 139, repro., as by Ghiberti.
Middeldorf, Ulrich. Sculptures from the Samuel H. Kress Collection: European Schools XIV-XIX Century. London, 1976: 13.
Walker, John. National Gallery of Art, Washington. Rev. ed. New York, 1984: 623, no. 960, repro.
Kecks, Ronald. "Zur Künstlerischen Entwicklung Lorenzo Ghibertis in der Madonnendarstellung." Mitteilungen des Kunsthistorischen Institutes in Florenz 32, no. 3 (1988): 525-536, fig. 1.
Sculpture: An Illustrated Catalogue. National Gallery of Art, Washington, 1994: 86, repro.
Darr, Alan, Peter Barnet, and Antonia Boström. Catalogue of Italian Sculptures in the Detroit Institute of Arts. 2 vols. London, 2002: 1:91.
Bormand, Marc. La Vierge et l'Enfant: Deux reliefs en terre cuite. Paris, 2008: 7, 27 fig. 3.
Campigli, Marco, and Galli, Aldo. Donatello e il primo Rinascimento. Florence, 2008: 31, 33 repro., 156-159, repro. as by Donatello.
Cristanetti, Simona. "Hatching a Theory of Attribution: A 15th-Century Madonna and Child at the National Gallery of Art." In Hannelore Römich, ed. Glass and Ceramics Conservation 2010: interim meeting of the ICOM-CC Working Group, October 3-6, 2010. Corning, 2010: 219-227, fig. 1.
Langhanke, Birgit. Die Madonnenreliefs im Werk von Antonio Rossellino. Ph.D. diss. Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität, Munich, 2013: 39, 189, 314, fig. 2.
Gentilini, Giancarlo. “La tradizione del legno e la rinascita della terracotta: un confronto sotto la pelle della scultura dipinta.” In “Fece di scoltura di legname e colorì”. Scultura del Quattrocento in legno dipinto a Firenze. Exh. cat. Gallerie degli Uffizi, 2016: 62-79, esp. 69, repro. 64 , as Donatello.
National Gallery of Art. Highlights from the National Gallery of Art, Washington. Washington, 2016: 43, repro.
Caglioti, Francesco, Laura Cavazzini, Aldo Galli, and Neville Rowley. "Reconsidering the Young Donatello." Jahrbuch der Berliner Museen 57 (2015, published 10 August 2018): 30 fig. 23, 38, 40.

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