The Virgin is shown to the knees turning slightly to her left with both arms around the child who rests on a tasseled cushion on her lap. She is seated in a chair one arm of which terminated in a rosette, is seen at her right side. She wears a robe and a cloak fastened on the breast by a brooch. The child wears a broad striped girdle on a long coral necklace.
The relief is based on a gilded marble of the Virgin and Child with Angels, now attributed to Matteo Civitali, an important sculptor from Lucca, and dated to around 1460-61. The marble has been in the church of San Vincenzo Ferrer and Santa Caterina de' Ricci in Prato since the beginning of the 20th century. A number of close variants cast in stucco and terracotta survive, of which this version is one - here reproducing just the Virgin and Child without a background. Reliefs of the Virgin and Child were extremely popular in the late fifteenth and sixteenth centuries. They would have been displayed in the home not just as objects of devotion, but also as exemplars of the ideal mother and child. They could also be found on street corners as neighbourhood protectors, as well as in religious settings.
J.Turner ed.; The Dictionary of Art, (Oxford – 1996), Vol. 7, pp. 366 – 368
G.Milanesi, G.Vasari, Vite, (1550, rev. 2/1568), pp. 119, 125-130.
E.Ridolfi, L’Arte in Lucca Studiata nella sua Cattedrale, (Lucca – 1882).
C.Yriarte, Matteo Civitali: Sa Vie et son Oeuvre, (Paris – 1886).
J.Pope-Hennessy, Italian Renaissance Sculpture, 5London – 1963), pp. 292-3.
C.Baracchini, A.Caleca, Il Duomo di Lucca, (Lucca – 1972).
F.Negri Arnoldi, “Matteo Civitali: Scultore Lucchese” in: Egemonia Fiorentina ed Autonomie Locali nella Toscana Nord-Occidentale del Primo Rinascimento: Vita, Arte, Cultura: Atti del Settimo Convegno Internazionale, (Pistoia – 1975).
U.Middeldorf, “Quelques Sculptures de la Renaissance en Toscane Occidentale”, in: Rev. A., (Paris – 1977), Vol XXVI, pp. 7-26.
F.Pettruci, Matteo Civitali e Roma, (Florence – 1980).
S.Bule, Matteo Civitali: Four Major Sculptural Programmes, (Diss., Colombus, OH State Uni – 1987).
G.Concioni, C.Ferri, G.Ghilarducci, I Pittori Rinascimentali a Lucca, (Lucca – 1988).
S.Bule, “Nuovi Documenti per Matteo Civitali” in: Riv. A., (Paris – 1988), pp. 357-37.
Gilt marble relief – Chiesa dei Santi Vincenzo Ferrer e Caterina de’Ricci, Prato
Painted stucco relief – Victoria & Albert Museum, London – A. 14-1911 (purchased from Stefano Bardini in Florence)
Polychrome and gilt terra cotta relief – Louvre, Paris – Inv. R.F. 1644 (gift from the Marques Arconati-Visconti in 1914)
Polychrome stucco relief – Private Collection Italy (previously Asta Boetto, attributed as workshop of Rossellino)
Haut-relief, terre cuite, Louvre, Paris – Campana 14