by Michael Riddick
Preview / download PDF in High Resolution
A large rectangular relief of the Virgin and Child within an Arch (Fig. 01) and a smaller arched relief of the Virgin and Child within a Niche (Fig. 02) are recognized as two of the earliest sculptural productions of what is today considered the genre of plaquettes, being the reproductive casting of small reliefs in metal with an origin in the early Italian Renaissance. As suggested by their subject and scale, both reliefs were intended for private devotional use. The larger relief could stand-alone or may have served as the central panel for a house altar.1 In one instance, it was appropriated as a tabernacle door.2 The smaller relief is unanimously recognized as intended for use on paxes, to be set into a frame and used during the liturgy.
Both reliefs show a distinct awareness of Donatello’s inventions. Douglas Lewis notes their rilievo schiacciato, a sophisticated technique of low-relief sculpture invented and popularized by Donatello.3 The larger relief reflects Donatello’s anatomical typology for the child Christ4 while the disappearance of the child’s arm behind the Virgin recalls an early relief portraying the Virgin and Child Christ within a Mantle attributed to a young Donatello or sometimes credited to Lorenzo Ghiberti.5 The architectural motif of the Virgin and Child within an Arch is frequently noted for its reflection of Donatello’s use of antique architecture to add perspectival depth to the scene, as noted and compared against his bronze relief of the Feast of Herod for the Baptistery Font in the Cathedral of Siena.6 While some scholars have attributed the relief directly to Donatello7 a majority of scholars have opted to associate it with a follower of the master8 and possibly after a lost model by Donatello from the 1420s-30s.9 The idea that the relief could be an early work by Bertoldo di Giovanni, Donatello’s late collaborator, was posited by Wilhelm von Bode10 and considered also by Francesco Negri Arnoldi,11 although the idea gained little traction.12
The Virgin and Child within a Niche has also been attributed to Donatello, drawing on its likeness with Donatello’s marble Pazzi Madonna (Fig. 03) or his bronze tomb slab for Bishop Pecci.13 The feature of the shell niche on this relief and Pecci’s tomb also correspond with Donatello’s other commissions throughout the 1420s and around 1430, like his tabernacle for the Saint Louis of Toulouse formerly in Or San Michele or the Madonna della Gherardesca and Torrigiani Madonna at the Museo Nazionale del Bargello.14 However, a majority of scholars attribute the relief to an anonymous sculptor in Donatello’s immediate circle,15 in particular, Bertrand Jestaz was skeptical Donatello would occupy himself with the serial facture of such a small work more aligned with a follower inspired by the Pazzi Madonna.16 Giancarlo Gentilini tentatively suggested Andrea Guardi or a young Filerate as possible inventors of the relief17 and John Pope-Hennessy tentatively suggested Donatello’s collaborator, Michelozzo, as a possible author18 while Lewis endorsed the later attribution on stylistic grounds.19 Current scholarship has opted to retain an attribution to Donatello’s circle or workshop20 although Jeremy Warren cautiously considered Michelozzo a possibility.21
The relief may have been originally conceived in its small scale, qualifying it as what Lewis described to be “perhaps the first true plaquette,”22 while other scholars have considered it a reduced-scale copy of a larger lost prototype by Donatello. Warren has recently noted an enlarged painted and gilt stucco version of the composition, formerly known by an art market example, which could instead suggest the plaquette, and presumably other stucco casts, preserve the essence of a lost marble original by Donatello.23 Nonetheless, the inventive production of a small relief in metal would have initiated new serial applications of relief sculpture in a more durable, prestigious and antique-inspired medium, serving as an alternative to the serially produced stucco, terracotta and cartapesta workshop reproductions of the period. Notably, the larger Virgin and Child within an Arch is known by a minority of bronze casts24 whereas alternative productions in stucco25 and terracotta26 are slightly more common.
Although the inspirational models for the reliefs of the Virgin and Child within an Arch and Virgin and Child within a Niche have their genesis with Donatello and his activity during the 1420s-30s, the idea that the metal reliefs themselves are from this period remains questionable even though some scholars have ascribed them to this time-frame. Warren, for example, takes care to note that the model for the Virgin and Child within an Arch could date around 1430 while the bronze casts are more likely dated to the mid-15th century and probably produced in a workshop in Donatello’s ambit.27
As regards the smaller Virgin and Child within a Niche, an attention toward the advent of serially made paxes should be considered. A majority of early quattrocento paxes were produced individually in fine materials like silver and did not transition into serially produced bronze objects until closer to the mid-15th century. The beginnings of this can be observed in the serial facture of bronze appliques intended to be set into various objects like processional crosses and tabernacle doors, translated also for use on paxes with individual or separately cast parts for frames. The popularity of the pax also arose in congress with their demand. Filarete’s earliest paxes date to the mid-1440s and this may likewise apply to the dating of paxes emanating from Donatello’s sphere. The invention of a small relief intended for use on paxes is more likely an invention born out of the generation that followed Donatello.
As concerns the development of serially produced bronze paxes in Florence, the present author has already suggested a possible experimentation in this direction by Donatello’s occasional collaborator, Maso di Bartolomeo, whose expertise in bronze and inventive production of the Reliquary for the Holy Girdle of the Virgin (Fig. 04) made for the Opera del Duomo in Prato between 1446-48 may have been stimulus for the creation of small-scale works in bronze requiring a sophisticated level of craftsmanship.28 Maso’s subsequent work on the bronze doors for the North Sacristy of Florence Cathedral, in collaboration with Michelozzo and Luca Della Robbia, may have been further impetus for the idea of serially produced bronze paxes, spurred by Luca’s success and achievements in the serial facture of glazed terracottas during the 1440s.
On account of its close correspondence with Luca and Michelozzo’s designs and a stylistic consistency between the carved ivory putti on Maso’s Reliquary for the Holy Girdle, the present author has suggested Maso and his workshop were responsible for a pax of the Madonna and Child flanked by two Adoring Angels, known by examples at the National Gallery of Art29 (Fig. 05) and one formerly in Berlin.30 The pax is comprised of at least 13-to-14 individually cast parts, joined by sprues which have been carefully hammered and concealed, although the Berlin example is possibly an earlier experimental iteration of the pax, lacking finesse with regard to concealing the sprues and suggesting an environment in which the logistics of production were continually being improved upon.
While the Virgin and Child within a Niche is acknowledged for its intended use on paxes it is enigma that no published examples preserve a contemporary example in its original frame. A few examples in pax-form, however, are known. The most common variety, known by three examples,31 features the relief cast integrally with an arched frame of Lombard origin, perhaps from the mid-16th century, surmounted by dolphins and the head of a putto. That the relief is cast integral with the frame is immediate evidence for its later facture while the motif lacks the scalloped niche and is naively overworked.
A single example in pax-form, providing a terminus ante quem, is at the British Museum, dated 1486 and featuring the arms of Marino Tomacelli who was Bishop of Cassano from 1485-94.32 Although an earlier cast, this version is again debased, cast integral and floating against a stippled background.
More obscure is a truncated repoussé copper example from the vault of the sacristy of the Church of St. Ursula in Cologne, Germany in which a late 15th century gothic pax frame features the relief hinged on a pin for storing a small relic behind it (Fig. 06). Though scarcely discussed, it is one of the earliest appropriations of an Italian design on a Northern pax.
Here published for the first time is a probable contemporary example of the relief in its original frame (Fig. 07). The bronze has a high copper content typical of mid-15th century Florentine bronzes and although the handle is either a replacement or was removed and adjusted, the impression left behind by a former bolt, originally securing it, is consistent with quattrocento paxes. The rope molded border and predella of the pax reflects the same kind observed on Michelozzo’s Madonna and Child marble at the Bargello (Fig. 08).
Unlike the previously discussed paxes, the present one features an independent example of the relief set into a separately cast frame comprised of six individually cast parts.33 Unique to this example is the raised flange along the exterior margin of the relief which hugs the protruding edge of the frame (Fig. 09). Independent casts of the relief do not feature this raised marginal flange but appear taken from an impression of only the flat interior surface. Rather than being cast, the relief on the present pax may instead be a repoussé work embossed over a master model and enhanced with chased details. This experimental approach may have been employed prior to casting the individual examples of the relief that are more popularly known today and deriving perhaps from treated wax impressions taken from the original model. The production of a theoretically earlier repoussé variant of the relief mimicking the stamp-like production of stucco, cartapesta and terracottas typical of Florentine workshops may have preceded the use of individual casts of the relief enterprising from the original model.34 It is possible the copper repoussé example in Cologne, cropped to fit into its later gothic frame and featuring the exposed edges of a former flange, may be an additional instance of this early workshop practice, removed from its original context and applied to a later Northern one.
The close affinity of this pax with Michelozzo, and the hypothetical production of paxes in the workshop of Maso di Bartolomeo may direct us to an overlooked candidate for the author of this relief and that of the Virgin and Child within an Arch: Michele di Giovanni da Fiesole, also called Michele di Giovanni di Bartolo, or simply “Il Greco,” a nickname he presumably earned for his unabated affection for the classical.35
Although considered to have emerged from the school of Michelozzo and Bernardo Rossellino, Michele’s activity in Florence is hardly known. Documents place his birth probably in 1418 and in 1440 he became registered as a member of the guild of masters of stone and wood.36 That same year he was responsible for the inlaid wooden cabinets still in situ within the sacristy of the Basilica of Santa Croce in Florence. It is during the 1440s that Michele probably met Maso di Bartolomeo and possibly began working as an assistant in his workshop and perhaps initially with wooden models used for bronze casting.37 If so, Michele would have been witness to the production of the bronze candlesticks in Maso’s workshop produced during the 1440s as well as the gilt bronze door and reliquary casket for the chapel housing the Relic of the Girdle at the Opera del Duomo in Prato. He may have also observed the initial production related to the bronze doors for the North Sacristy of Florence Cathedral, originally charged to Donatello but entrusted to Maso, Michelozzo and Luca della Robbia. After Donatello left Florence in 1444 and with Michelozzo’s increased focus on architecture, Maso became the leading bronzista of Florence during this period.38
During the last half of the 1440s, Maso would continue to collaborate with Michelozzo on projects for Piero de’ Medici at Santissima Annunziata and the church of San Miniato al Monte in Florence. If Michele was active as an assistant during this period, presumably occupied with minor works, this might account for the distinctive nimbus of the Madonna on the Madonna and Child flanked by two Adoring Angels pax whose motif appears also on the wood inlay of a door Michele executed for Michelozzo’s portal within Santa Croce during the 1440s (Fig. 10).39 That Michele was a member of the stone and wood guild would not have inhibited him from gathering an experience in bronze and being qualified to work in the medium, as members were known to tangentially work in bronze.40 Michele’s capability in the medium is confirmed when he assumes Maso’s role as cannon founder and official sculptor for the Republic of Dubrovnik (Ragusa) in 1457-58, following Maso’s tragic death while testing a bombard there in 1457.41
Michele’s earliest connection to Maso is confirmed when, in 1554, he went to Urbino along with another of Maso’s trusted assistants, Pasquino da Montepulciano, to complete the portal for the façade of San Domenico, begun in 1449. The project was commissioned by the Duke of Urbino, Federigo da Montefeltro, and was overseen by Fra Carnevale. The angels flanking God the Father in the portal’s tympanum are confidently ascribed to Michele and it is in this relief that we may observe an initial relationship with the Virgin and Child within an Arch. A similar spirit is evident in the facial character of the infant-angel and the Virgin. Specifically, the eyes have the same semi-circular shape with lids outlined by neatly arched strokes and pupils delineated by a modest drilled-hole (Fig. 11).
Michele remained in Urbino where he was enlisted again under the auspices of Fra Carnevale, to assist in the decoration of the Duke’s palace adjacent to San Domenico, tasked with converting its gothic interiors with an updated antiquarian modality rife with Classical and Florentine influences. In particular, Michele was assigned the decoration of the Appartamento della Jole where his stylistic tendencies are most evident. A notable portrayal of his talent is additionally found on a stone relief of the Madonna and Child with Four Angels, probably intended for a chapel within the palace but whose original context is lost.42
It is in the various works Michele provided for the ducal palace where further stylistic comparisons may be drawn against the bronze reliefs of the Virgin and Child within an Arch and Virgin and Child within a Niche. Returning to the rendering of eyes, we observe an austere yet potent intensity on a cherub featured in the tondo of a window decoration in the Sala della Jole. Its sharply outlined character recalls the eyes of the Virgin and Child in a Niche (Fig. 12) while the motif itself is born out of the logical influence of Luca della Robbia and Michelozzo, which Matteo Ceriana compares against a cherub by Luca on the tomb for Bishop Federighi at Santa Trinita in Florence and the cherub in a window decoration attributed to Michelozzo’s workshop at the Pazzi Chapel in Santa Croce, Florence.43
Other idiosyncratic details can be made in comparison with the tondo busts that navigate the Sala della Jole’s window ornament. For example, the specific approach to rendering tufts of hair which are demarcated by stacked curls alternating direction along each tier (Fig. 13). The way in which the sculptor treats the stone is similar to his approach toward chasing bronze. This is most evident in the tondo featuring a bearded man whose wild strands are carved vigorously in a manner recalling the heavily chased cast of the National Gallery of Art’s Virgin and Child within an Arch (Fig. 14).44 A less dynamic approach is likewise comparable between the treatment of hair observed on a bust of a man and that of the child Christ on the chased Virgin and Child within a Niche pax (Fig. 15).
Further stylistic tendencies are evident on Michele’s Madonna and Child with Four Angels (Fig. 16). The very specific ornament along the cuff of the Madonna’s sleeve favors the one also observed on the Virgin and Child within an Arch (Fig. 17) while the Madonna’s folded collar is a stylistic hallmark observed also in the attendant angels in the background of the relief as well as on the infant-angels featured in the tympanum of the San Domenico portal (Fig. 18). Its feature on the Virgin’s collar in the Virgin and Child within a Niche is tantamount, inclusive of the ruled lines which border its interior ornament.
The architectural character of the Madonna and Child with Four Angels epitomizes the classical vocabulary found on the two bronze reliefs, inclusive of the scalloped niche and especially the receding bay within which the Madonna and Child are set before a retreating architrave. The squared frames outlining the pseudo-triptych also recall the tiered moulding that squares the Madonna and Child within an Arch relief. The rotund face of the child Christ and his wafting tufts of hair also recall the child Christ on the same bronze relief.
The use of single-point perspective in the Virgin and Child within an Arch may also owe an indebtedness to Fra Carnevale’s influence over Michele, having intimately overseen the decorative program for the palace apartments. Carnevale’s arrival in Florence in 1445 would have given him ample opportunity to meet Michele, especially if Michele was active in Maso’s workshop, as documents indicate Maso’s rapport with Carnevale, who was likely responsible for Maso’s subsequent involvement in the creation of the portal for San Domenico in Urbino.45
Lastly, attention has been given to a sketch depicting three scenes of the Virgin and Child at the Musée Condé Chantilly, frequently attributed to Pisanello or his ambit, ca. 1432-40 (Fig. 19). The figure group along the right-side of the sketch shares a homogeneity with the Virgin and Child within a Niche while the group along the base of the sheet is a precise reproduction of the Virgin and Child within an Arch. Michele may have been aware of this sketch and numerous others by the same hand that once formed a collection of designs presumably circulating Florence and Rome during the mid-15th century. Some of the sketches reproduce scenes from an antique Roman sarcophagus known during the Renaissance,46 upon which Michele based his classical scene of a Bacchic procession for the fireplace of the Sala della Jole (Fig. 20).47 Other fireplaces in the palace feature flying putto flanking heraldic devices. Their legs extend with pointed feet in a pose that echoes that of the standing child upon the parapet of the Virgin and Child within an Arch (Fig. 21).
Michele’s theoretical activity in Maso’s workshop during the last half of the 1540s provides a suitable context from which the two bronze reliefs would have been conceived. It was during this period that Maso worked closely with other major artistic Florentines like Michelozzo and Luca della Robbia and the overarching influence of Donatello’s touch upon these masters provides ample context for the invention of the two reliefs. Given the distinctive Florentine nature of the two reliefs, they were likely conceived in that city sometime prior to Michele’s departure for Urbino in 1454.
1 Charles Avery, for example, wondered if the relief could reflect a lost marble original once forming a house altar commissioned by Piero del Pugliese in the 1490s and once featuring a central marble relief of the Virgin and Child, now lost. The painted wings of the house altar by Fra Bartolomeo survive in the Uffizi, Florence. See Charles Avery (1989): Donatello’s Madonnas Revisited. Donatello-Studien. Munich, pp. 226–228.
2 Christie’s auction, 7 July 1987, lot 150. Anna Jolly theorized the reliefs were possibly made for the purpose of serving as tabernacle doors although Jeremy Warren reasonably argued against this noting the stucco and terracotta editions of the relief imply a devotional purpose whereas the auctioned example is an eccentric appropriation of the relief. See Anna Jolly (1998): Madonnas by Donatello and his Circle. Frankfurt am Main. Peter Lang, no. 44.1, p. 148 and Jeremy Warren (2016): The Wallace Collection. Catalog of Italian Sculpture. The Trustees of the Wallace Collection, London, No. 3, pp. 32-35.
3 Douglas Lewis (2006) ed. F. Rossi: Placchette e rilievi di bronzo nell’età del Mantegna, Mantova e Milano. Skira, pp. 3-15.
4 Neville Rowley (2016): Maria mit Kind in einer Nische / Virgin and Child in a Niche. Ident. Nr. 3044, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin online collections database. http://www.smb-digital.de (accessed June 2020).
5 Neville Rowley (2016): Maria mit dem Kind im Mantel. Ident. Nr. 1940, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin online collections database. http://www.smb-digital.de (accessed June 2020).
6 See C. Avery (1989): op. cit. (note 1); N. Rowley (2016): op. cit. (note 4); and J. Warren (2016): op. cit. (note 2).
7 See Émile Molinier (1886): Les Bronzes de la Renaissance. Les plaquettes. Paris, vol. I, no. 64, p. 34; Ernst Bange (1922): Die Italienischen Bronzen der Renaissance und des Barock, Zweiter Teil: Reliefs und Plaketten. Berlin and Leipzig, Walter de Gruyter, no. 3, p. 1; Seymour de’ Ricci (1931): The Gustave Dreyfus Collection. Reliefs and Plaquettes. Oxford, no. 7, p. 10; Hans Kauffman (1935): Donatello. Eine Einführung in sein Bilden und Denken. Berlin, Grotesche Verlagsbuchandlung, pp. 156, 223; and D. Lewis (2006): op. cit. (note 3).
8 See Paul Schubring (1907): Donatello. Des Meisters Werke. Abbildungen, 277. Stuttgart and Leipzig, Deutsche Verlags-Anstalt, pp. 170, 201 and Paul Schubring (1907): Gli acquisti del museo Kaiser Friedrich. L’Arte, X, p. 452; ; J.G. Mann (1931): Wallace Collection Catalogues. Sculpture: Marbles, Terra-cottas and Bronzes, Carvings in Ivory and Wood, Plaquettes, Medals, Coins and Wax Reliefs. London; Eric Maclagan and Margaret Longhurst (1932): Victoria and Albert Museum: Catalogue of Italian Sculpture, 2 vols. London; John Pope-Hennessy (1964): Catalogue of Italian Sculpture in the Victoria and Albert Museum. London, Her Majesty’s Stationary Office, vol. I, p. 91 and John Pope-Hennessey (1965): Renaissance Bronzes from the Samuel H. Kress Collection, London, Phaidon Press, p. 21; Alison Luchs (1985): Italian Renaissance Sculpture in the Time of Donatello, exh. cat. (Detroit, The Detroit Institute of Arts, 23 October 1985-5 January 1986 and Fort Worth, Kimbell Museum of Art, 22 February-5 April 1986), Detroit, The Detroit Institute of Arts, p. 140 and Alison Luchs (1986): Donatello e i suoi, exh. cat. (Florence, Forte del Belvedere, 15 June-7 September 1986), Detroit and Florence, The Detroit Institute of Arts, La Casa Usher and Arnaldo Mondadori Editore, p. 167; J. Warren (2016): op. cit. (note 2); and N. Rowley (2016): op. cit. (note 4).
9 See Ulrich Middeldorf (1976): Sculptures from the Samuel H. Kress Collection: European Schools XIV-XIX century. London; C. Avery: (1989): op. cit. (note 6); A. Jolly (1998): op. cit. (note 2); Keith Christiansen (2004): Fra Carnevale. Un artista rinascimentale da Filippo Lippi a Piero della Francesca, exh. cat. (Milan, Pinacoteca di Brera, New York, Metropolitan Museum of Art, p. 168; Aldo Galli (2010): Vocazione e prime esperienze di Antonio di Cristoforo e Niccolò Baroncelli, scultori fiorentini a Ferrara. Prospettiva, 139-140, July-October 2010, p. 44; and J. Warren (2016): op. cit. (note 2).
10 Wilhelm Bode (1897): Die Sammlung Oscar Hainauer, Berlin, W. Büxenstein, no. 127, pp. 29, 80.
11 Francesco Negri Arnoldi (1983): Bellano e Bertoldo nella bottega di Donatello. Prospettiva 33–36, pp. 98-99.
12 This tentative idea was omitted from the first monograph on Bertoldo di Giovanni. See Aimee Ng, Alexnader Noelle, Xavier Salomon (eds.): (2019): Bertoldo di Giovanni. The Frick Collection, NY.
13 E. Bange (1922): op. cit. (note 7), no. 292, p. 39; Eric Maclagan (1924): Catalogue of Italian Plaquettes, London, The Board of Education, pp. 16-17; Ulrich Middeldorf (1944): Medals and Plaquettes from the Sigmund Morgenroth Collection. Chicago, p. 41, nos. 295-96; and C. Avery (1989): op. cit. (note 6).
14 J. Warren (2016): op. cit. (note 2), nos. 4-5, pp. 36-39.
15 E. Molinier (1886): op. cit. (note 7), vol. II, no. 372, p. 30; Paul Schubring (1907): Donatello. Des Meisters Werke. Abbildungen, 277. Stuttgart and Leipzig, Deutsche Verlags-Anstalt, p. 95; J.G. Mann (1931): op. cit. (note 8), p. 111; S. Ricci (1931): op. cit. (note 7), pp. 174, 234; J. Pope-Hennessey (1965): op. cit. (note 8), no. 57, pp. 20-21; Francesco Rossi (1974): Placchette. Sec. XV-XIX. Neri Pozza Editore, Vicenza, Italy, no. 14, pp. 9-10; Giancarlo Gentilini (Paola Barocchi , ed.) (1985): Omaggio a Donatello. 1386-1986. Donatello e la storia del Museo, exh. cat. (Florence, Museo Nazionale del Bargello, 19 December 1985-30 May 1986), Florence, SPES, pp. 430-431; Giuseppe and Fiorenza-Vannel Toderi (1996): Placchette Secoli XV-XVIII, Museo Nazionale del Bargello. Studio per Edizioni Scelte, Firenze, Italy, no. 101, p. 61; Bertrand Jestaz (1997): Catalog del Museo Civico di Belluno: Le Placchette e I Piccoli Bronzi.Belluno, no. 69, pp. 84-85; A. Jolly (1998): op. cit. (note 2), no. 45, pp. 47, 153-54; Thomas Richter (2003): Paxtafeln und Pacificalia: Studien zu Form, Ikonographie und liturgischem Gebrauch. Verlag und Datenbank für Geisteswissenschaften, Weimar, no. 75, pp. 134, 420-21; Jeremy Warren (2014): Medieval and Renaissance Sculpture in the Ashmolean Museum, Vol. 3: Plaquettes. Ashmolean Museum Publications, UK, no. 273, pp. 811-12; J. Warren (2016): op. cit. (note 2), nos. 4-5, pp. 36-39; Neville Rowley (2016): Virgin and Child. Ident. Nr. 1034, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin online collections database. http://www.smb-digital.de (accessed June 2020); Emmanuel Lamouche (2018): Bronzes, plaquettes, médailles. Catalogue de l’exposition: Splendeurs médiévales, la collection Duclaux révélée (Musée des Beaux-arts d’Angers, 9 novembre 2018 – 24 février 2019), no. 45.
16 B. Jestaz (1997): op. cit. (note 15).
17 See G. Gentilini (1985): op. cit. (note 15).
18 J. Pope-Hennessy (1993): Donatello Sculptor, NY, London, Paris, pp. 252-53.
19 D. Lewis (2006): op. cit. (note 3).
20 E. Lamouche (2018): op. cit. (note 13) and N. Rowley (2016): op. cit. (note 15).
21 J. Warren (2016): op. cit. (note 2), nos. 4-5, pp. 36-39.
22 D. Lewis (2006): op. cit. (note 2), translation provided via English manuscript, February 2016. With thanks to Doug Lewis.
23 J. Warren (2016): op. cit. (note 2), nos. 4-5, pp. 36-39. For the auctioned stucco example see Galerie Fischer auction 24-28 November 1964, lot 760.
24 Bronze casts of the Virgin and Child within an Arch are in the Wallace Collection (Inv. S297), Berlin Museums (Inv. 3044), National Gallery of Art (Inv. 1957.14.131), an unidentified collection cited by Francesco Negri Arnoldi, documented in a photo at the Gabinetto Fotografico della Soprintendenza di Firenze (presumably an example formerly in the Grassi collection) and a version appropriated as a tabernacle door (see note 2).
25 Stucco casts of the Virgin and Child within an Arch are in Berlin (Inv. SKS 76), Szépmüvészeti Múzeum in Budapest (Inv. 2049), Victoria & Albert Museum, and a private collection (sale of the Raoul Tolentino collection, 1926, lot 719).
26 A terracotta cast of the Virgin and Child within an Arch is in the Louvre (Inv. 704). For the most recent and thorough census of examples see N. Rowley (2016): op. cit. (note 4).
27 J. Warren (2016): op. cit. (note 2)
28 Michael Riddick (2017): A Remarkable Florentine Pax. Renbronze.com (accessed June 2020).
29 National Gallery of Art, Inv. 1957.14.392.
30 E. Bange (1922): op. cit. (note 7), no. 302.
31 Examples of this version are at the Louvre (Inv. OA2539), one formerly in Berlin (Inv. 7321) and now in the Pushkin Museum in Moscow and one formerly in the Kauffman collection (Helbing auction, 4 December 1917, lot 165).
32 British Museum, Inv. PE 1915,12-16,325.
33 The arched frame with the relief fitted therein, has been set upon a pre-cast horizontal support base with a thin flange along its rear, hidden but observable from below the pax and nested between the final base and backplate, extending about 3 mm down. A separate support base, 6 mm in height, forms the bottom of the pax, supporting the initial base and upper arched frame. There is an incuse area on the reverse of this base formed to accept the flange of the first base. The rim of the first base is observable from the back where the overall backplate of the pax has been formed over it, causing a slight horizontal protrusion where the support base has been covered. The interior lip of the repousse has been tooled where it folds outwardly to nest into the frame. It has been fused to the base.
34 Anna Jolly’s census counted 22 known examples of the relief. See A. Jolly (1998): op. cit. (note 2). However, the present author has located a total of 33-to-34 examples and Doug Lewis’ unpublished catalog entry may potentially add more to this enumeration. Confirming Jeremy Warren’s note that the casts of the relief were likely produced over a great length of time is proven by the dated example at the British Museum, already discussed, and an unpublished crude, later cast dated 1560 (art market, Hargesheimer Kunstauktionen).
35 Clarence Kennedy (1932): Il Greco aus Fiesole. Mitteilungen des Kunsthistorischen Institutes in Florenz 4. Bd., H. 1. Kunsthistorisches Institut in Florenz, pp. 25-40.
36 C. Kennedy (1932): op. cit. (note 34).
37 A wooden model for a candelabrum attributed to Maso in the Cathedral of Prato, closely related to his Pistoia candelabrum in the same cathedral, is preserved at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston. See Giuseppe Marchini (1968): Maso di Bartolomeo. Donatello e il suo tempo. Atti del Convegno. Firenze, Padova, p. 237 and Giorgio Bonsanti (1986): Maso di Bartolomeo. Donatello e i suoi: Scultura fiorentina del primo rinascimento. Firenze, pp. 189-191.
38 Matteo Ceriana (2005): Fra Carnevale and the Practice of Architecture. From Filippo Lippi to Piero della Francesca: Fra Carnevale and the Making of a Renaissance Master. Metropolitan Museum of Art, NY, pp. 96-135.
39 For a synopsis of Michele’s wood inlay work at Santa Croce see Philip Jacks and William Caferro (2001): The Spinelli of Florence. Fortunes of a Renaissance Merchant Family. Pennsylvania State University Press, pp. 164-66.
40 For a discussion concerning the production of bronze by members of the stone and wood guild in Florence see Martin Wackerangel (1981): The World of the Florentine Renaissance Artist: Projects and Patrons, Workshop and Art Market. Princeton University Press, pp. 305-06.
41 Predrag Marković (2012): The Artists of Michelozzo’s Circle in Dubrovnik and the Reflections of their Activity in Dalmatia. Historia Artis Magistra. amicorum discipulorumque munuscula Johanni Höfler septuagenario dicata. Znanstvena založba Filozofske fakultete: Slovensko umetnostnozgodovinsko društvo. Ljubljana, pp. 221-30.
42 Giovanni Russo: Michele di Giovanni da Fiesole, detto “Il Greco.” Galleria Nazionale delle Marche and the Palazzo Ducale di Urbino. http://www.gallerianazionalemarche.it (accessed June 2020).
43 M. Ceriana (2005): op. cit. (note 34).
44 The character and wear of the gilding observed on the Virgin and Child within an Arch at the National Gallery of Art follows similarly with the contemporary pax of the Virgin and Child within a Niche. The NGA relief has a notably weaker fidelity than the other bronze examples of the composition. The lively chasing over its original details appears to salvage what must have been a faulted, weak cast, in which the chasing has successfully brought it back-to-life. This extra attention given to the relief is evident where the loose stone along the arch is rendered with sharp incisions as opposed to the feature of a raised edge which adds heightened perspectival effect on the other known casts of the composition.
45 Andrea di Lorenzo (2005): Documents in the Florentine Archives. From Filippo Lippi to Piero della Francesca: Fra Carnevale and the Making of a Renaissance Master. Metropolitan Museum of Art, NY, pp. 290-93.
46 The antique sarcophagus upon which Michele’s chimney frieze is based is now at the British Museum (Inv. 1805,0703.130) and was formerly in Santa Maria Maggiore in Rome during the 15th century.
47 Bernhard Degenhart (1950): Michele di Giovanni di Bartolo: Disegni dall’antico e il camino “Della Iole.” Bollettino d’Arte, ser. 4, 35, no. 3. Ministero dei beni e delle attivita culturali e del turismo, pp. 208-15.
Leave a Reply