Jacopo della Quercia, attributed to
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Jacopo della Quercia, Francesco di Valdambrino, and other Sienese artists made made many of these pairs of large (almost life-size) statues of the the Angel Gabriel and the Virgin Mary, possibly to stand in niches on either side of a chapel or nave, creating almost theatrical tableaux. In all cases, Gabriel has lost his wings (originally slotted into cavities in the back of the statue), which could have been made of wood or perhaps of a more fragile material -- cloth or even feathers, which would explain why they do not survive. Scholars have been unable to agree on the attribution of these sculptures, partially because they are currently obscured with much later (probably seventeenth century) gilding completely covering the clothing and hair. The clothing would have originally been painted in multiple colours and the hair defined with subtler gilding, as can be seen in other examples. Likewise, the painting of the faces, with the huge staring eyes and sharp eyebrows, does not seem to be original. Because of the complex swaying poses, looped drapery, and inventive hair style of Gabriel, this is probably a late work of Jacopo della Quercia (ca. 1425-30). These statues, currently displayed in the Pinacoteca Nazionale in Siena, are documented to have been in the church of the convent of Santa Maria degli Angeli in Siena (known as Il Santuccio) in the sixteenth century. Documents also record how people in the sixteenth century dressed these statues in real clothing and used them during particular liturgical celebrations. Since the figures are already clothed in two layers of sculpted clothing, including cloaks, and the arms are attached to the bodies, it is not clear what kind of further clothing was added -- perhaps another cloak on top or some form of crown or other jewelry? Photograph(s) licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.