About This Artwork

Central Italian

Virgin and Child, 1475/1500

Pigmented terracotta
57 3/4 in. (146.7 cm)

Mr. and Mrs. Martin A. Ryerson Collection, 1933.1303

Although frequently described as a humble and austere medium, clay was perennially popular during the Italian Renaissance and could be modeled with notable sophistication. Clay was especially acceptable for finished works of art made in areas where marble or bronze was prohibitively expensive. Once completed, this sculpture was sliced with fine wire into at least four sections, and extremities like the Virgin’s head and hands and the Christ Child were fired separately. After firing, these elements were reassembled and painted. The Virgin and Child appears to be the work of an artist trained in Tuscany with some knowledge of the sculpture of Donatello and his partner Michelozzo.

— Permanent collection label

View mobile website