- Attributed to Desiderio da Settignano (Italian, 1429-1464)
- c. 1455
- White Carrara marble
- 20 x 16 in. (50.8 x 40.6 cm)
- Credit Line:
- The Norton Simon Foundation
- Accession Number:
- © The Norton Simon Foundation
Born and trained in Settignano, a village of stonecutters in Tuscany, Desiderio was one of the most talented marble sculptors of the Florentine Renaissance. A virtuoso carver, he captured the transitory nuances of expression, achieving a balance between substance and spirit. Here, the Virgin embraces and presents the Christ Child, who clutches his swaddling cloth in both hands, a gesture that conveys both visual and emotional meaning. It adds movement to the composition and it reminds us of Christ’s sacrifice with reference to his burial shroud. Desiderio’s low relief carving conveys texture and weight: the Virgin’s dress and the soft, pudgy flesh of the Infant appear to transcend the hardness of the medium.
Half-length images of the Madonna and Child adorned domestic interiors, especially the private chapels of wealthy and aristocratic families. As objects of devotion and prayer, they were believed to have power as intermediaries to their divine counterparts.
Joseph Henri, Marquis Costa de Beauregard (d. 1824), Chambéry, Savoie, bequeathed to;
Charles Albert Costa de Beauregard (1835–1909).
Mme. Jacques Seligmann, Paris, by 1913, (Sale [ex-Seligmann sale], New York, Sotheby's, 4 January 1951, lot 136, to);
[Duveen Brothers, New York, stock no. 30135, sold 1965 to];
The Norton Simon Foundation.
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