Madonna and Child
Lorenzo Ghiberti, Filippo Brunelleschi, or Nanni di Banco
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Scholars agree that this painted and gilded terracotta Madonna and Child, housed in the Museo Bandini in Fiesole, is the work of a major artist of the early quattrocento, but the attribution has varied widely from earlier ascriptions to Jacopo della Quercia or Lorenzo Ghiberti to more recent suggestions that this could be the work of Filippo Brunelleschi or Nanni di Banco. As is typical for what was surely a domestic object, no documents have been found. Technical evidence (the way in which the back has been hollowed, a crack that happened in firing and is also present in copies, deep undercuts, the larger size, etc.) demonstrates that this work is the original from which many copies were made -- over 20 of which survive, making this tender, intertwined composition one of the most successful quattrocento sculptures in terms of diffusion. The terracotta has been painted with lead white, mixed with terre verte and red lake for the skin, and gilded on the veil and figures' hair. It would have been even more sumptuous originally, as the red of the dress is a glaze over silver leaf, which has since tarnished, creating a dull, dark color, where originally the work would have had the sheen almost of enamel. Photograph(s) licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.