unknown Florentine artist
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This approximately life-size painted terracotta sculpture of a wriggling baby, presumably Jesus, is currently housed in the museum of Santa Maria Novella in Florence. Documents attest to the popularity of naturalistic images of the infant Christ (and sometimes other saints as babies), which nuns and brides would dress and lay in elaborate cradles, as if they were actual babies. This sculpture has the arms attached to the side of the body and is made of relatively fragile terracotta, and so would be difficult if not impossible to dress. Instead, it was likely made for a life-size creche scene, perhaps one that the faithful could approach, kissing the child's feet, which would explain the damage to extended right foot. The naturalism of this depiction of a baby with flushed cheeks, golden curls, and rosy lips surely added to the appeal. The paint surface is fragmentary and has been restored with "tratteggio" (with parallel lines, so as to be distinguishable from the original paint). Photograph(s) licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.