Benedetto da Maiano, St. John the Baptist as a Child

Benedetto da Maiano,
St. John the Baptist as a Child

Benedetto da Maiano, St. John the Baptist as a Child
Second half of the XV century, marble, 40X31x18.5 cm, Inv. n. 196

The representation of St. John the Baptist as a child became quite common in Tuscany during the fifteenth century when his image, in keeping with the spirit of the times, which was wont to humanise the supernatural and exalt the themes of affection, were preferred, in particular for private prayer.

Many statues, prevalently in marble or earthenware, representing St. John the Baptist between the ages of infancy and adolescence, fall into the context of family religiosity and, with the intention of the fifteenth-century humanists to provide a didactic example of virtue.

The artist is uncertain. According to most art history experts, it is not by Donatello, as its first collector, the man of letters Frà Sabba da Castiglione, who around 1515, had settled in the Commandry of Borgo Durbecco, had hoped, or as Vasari always sustained during the sixteenth century.

The work may however always refer to one of the leading figures on the artistic scene of Florence during the high point of the Renaissance. Experts suggest perhaps Antonio Rossellino or Benedetto da Maiano, while others sustain a close link with Desiderio da Settignano, dating the work between 1470-1480.

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