The Wallace Collection

The Wallace Collection, A Family Collection, A National Museum, An International Treasure House
Virgin and Child
  • After Donatello (Donato di Niccolò di Betto Bardi) (1386 - 1466)
  • Follower of Donatello (Donato di Niccolò di Betto Bardi) (1386 - 1466)
  • Virgin and Child
  • Padua, Italy
  • mid 15th century
  • Plaquette
  • Cast bronze
  • Height: 20.5 cm
    Width: 15.5 cm
  • S297
  • Smoking Room
Commentary
History
Images & Media
Further Reading
  • This is one of the rarest plaquette designs commonly linked to the style of Donatello, with only four other casts surviving. Despite the scarcity of metal replicas, the model must have enjoyed great popularity, as it was copied in drawings as well as stucco, terracotta and marble reliefs.

    The attribution and dating of this model – with the bold perspectival presence of the archway, in turn set against another fictive frame, and the parapet – have long been debated. Some art historians, praising the shallow relief and pictorial qualities of the composition, have attributed it directly to Donatello, possibly in relation to an original lost marble relief. Others have considered it the work of a follower, like Bertoldo di Giovanni (c.1430/40–1491), or a product of the master’s workshop.

    Surely, the construction of the architectural background is typical of the style of Donatello who often adopted a slight angle from below to accentuate the monumentality of the figures. In particular, close comparisons can be drawn to two reliefs depicting the Feast of Herod, one in gilt bronze made for the Cathedral in Siena in the late 1420s, the other in marble and slightly later, therefore pushing the dating of the model to the 1430s. Given the small number of bronze casts and the quality of the design it seems entirely possible that Donatello was responsible for the model and that the casts were produced in workshops close to Donatello and within his lifetime.