This exceptionally fine relief was executed by Antonio Rossellino, one of the most talented sculptors active in Florence in the 1460s and 1470s. He employed the technique known as rilievo schiacciato, literally "flattened relief." The composition suggests that he looked at paintings as well as three-dimensional sculpture in creating a play of light and shadow in the low, carved surface of the relief. Damage along the perimeter of the marble suggests it was removed from a tabernacle before being framed. The relief enjoyed tremendous popularity in later centuries and gave rise to many plaster casts and replicas while it was in an English collection during the nineteenth century, before Morgan acquired it.
Virgin and Child with Cherubim
Florence, Italy, 1450s.
31 1/2 x 22 1/8 inches (800 x 562 mm)
Purchased by Pierpont Morgan, 1913.
Cockerell (1888-1913), England, since 1888; from whom purchased by J. Pierpont Morgan in 1913.