Antonio Rossellino (Italian, Florentine, 1427–ca. 1479)
Made in Florence, Italy
Marble, gilding on halo and dress
28 3/4 x 20 1/4 in. (73 x 51.4 cm)
Bequest of Benjamin Altman, 1913 (14.40.675)
Antonio Rossellino was among the most gifted sculptors of his generation, and his reliefs of the Virgin and Child are justly celebrated. The Virgin sits on an elaborate throne, with scrolled armrests projecting in high relief. Both she and the Christ Child in her arms seem strangely subdued, perhaps contemplating Christ's future suffering. The protective, caressing gesture of the Virgin's left hand is especially poignant. The surface is richly contoured and decorated, and the concern for finish extends to the background, which is enlivened by the heads and feathery wings of seraphim. Typical of painters of the period is the sculptor's attention to ornamental detail: the fringe of the Virgin's mantle, the haloes, and the strands of hair of both Virgin and Child are delicately highlighted with touches of gilding. Cleaning agents have caused the marble itself to darken.