Italian Clay Art: Brunelleschi’s Madonna first time on exhibit

Dec. 15, 2008 – Feb. 28, 2009
Firenze – Italy

Italian Ceramics - Madonna di Fiesole - Photo credits: www.corriere.itAn adorable clay sculpture of the Madonna with Child recently attributed to Filippo Brunelleschi (1377-1446) will be on exhibit for the first time through Feb. 28th, 2009 in the Opificio delle Pietre Dure in Florence.

The terracotta bust portraits a young woman with downcast eyes, deep in thought. She gently holds her baby, who leans on her shoulder with profound trust and intimacy, interlocking his legs with her arms.

The work, approx. 35” in height, was hand modeled in clay and after a first firing it was richly cold painted with the most precious materials, such as gold leaf, azurite and red lacque. On its rectangular base there is the inscription ‘O mater dei memento mei’, meaning Mother of God, remember me. Originally there were also some coat of arm that possibly belonged to the family that commissioned the sculpture. They’re no longer readable, maybe deleted on purpose.

The Madonna with Child was casually discovered two years ago in Fiesole. During its restoration, an accurate research on the artwork was executed, which resulted in its attribution to Brunelleschi, one of the most influential artist of the 15th century in Italy.

According to the experts, the sculpture was possibly the one mentioned in the description of the bedroom of Cosimo de’ Medici’s father, Giovanni di Bicci de’ Medici. Indeed, the golden symbols on the Child’s clothes remind the coat of arm of the Guild of the Exchange directed by Giovanni and his son, Cosimo, was one of Brunelleschi’s most important commissioners.

The bust is the original prototype of a number of sculptures, made of terracotta or stucco, now held at the Hermitage Museum, at the Berlin Museum, at the S. Mark Museum in Florence and in the Chigi-Saracini collection in Siena.

Opificio delle Pietre Dure
Via Alfani, 78
Phone: +39 055 26511
Open Mon-Sat  from 8.15 am to 2.00 pm