St. Antoninus

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Unknown sculptor and Tommaso di Zanobi Landini
St. Antoninus , Lamentation , Bust
This bust depicts St. Antoninus (1399-1459), archbishop of Florence, canonized in 1523. Antoninus had approved the rule of the Compagnia dello Scalzo, a Florentine confraternity (lay devotional organization), in whose cloister the bust is still housed. Many such painted clay busts were made of Antoninus in the 1490s (such as the example in the Oratorio di San Martino in Florence), as a part of a campaign to promote him for sainthood, but this bust was likely made later, possibly from a mold taken from one of the earlier sculptures or from the saint's death mask directly, as records survive documenting payments for the production of a clay bust of the saint in 1580 and its painting the subsequent year. The bust is made of terracruda, which is sun-baked clay, as opposed to the more common (and less fragile) terracotta, which is kiln-fired clay. In this case the clay was modelled around a straw core. Antoninus, despite his status as archbishop, was an ascetic dedicated to simple living and poverty, and so he wore his rough Dominican robes rather than the silk embroidered ones of an archbishop and lived and ate simply. He is shown here with a hollow-cheeked visage that is the polar opposite of the stereotype of the well-fed monk, but with sumptuous blue and gold robes (ornamented with a scene of the Lamentation), which he would have hated. Photograph(s) licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.
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