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Putto Carrying a Festoon

Completed 1489; 16th-century base
Benedetto da Maiano, Italian (active Florence), 1442 - 1497. Base made by Artist/maker unknown, Italian
Winged little boys (supernatural beings or sprites commonly referred to as “putti”) appear frequently in Renaissance art. They perform a variety of functions, both religious—acting as angelic creatures—and secular—serving as messengers of profane love. In sculpture they often appear at the tops and bottoms of monuments, particularly tombs, representing celebratory spirits. Ancient Roman stone coffins (called sarcophagi) ornamented with garland-bearing cherubs provided fifteenth-century Italian sculptors with the source for these playful children. The rope around the shoulders of this putto reveals that he was one of a group of four infants supporting a garland atop the large marble Altar of the Annunciation within the burial chapel of the Count of Terranova in the church of S. Anna dei Lombardi, Naples....

Object Details
Commissioned for Santa Maria di Monteoliveto (also known as Sant’Anna dei Lombardi), chapel of Marino Correale, conte di Terranuova (d. 1501) (later chapel of the Mastrogiudice family) (Naples) [1]; putto removed, possibly eighteenth century. John G. Johnson (1841–1917), Philadelphia, by 1914 [2]; bequest to the City of Philadelphia, 1917.1. The altarpiece was commissioned by Marino Correale, conte di Terranova, and paid for in 1489. Benedetto da Maiano carved the altarpiece in Florence and it was sent to Naples from there.2. The work is first recorded as in Johnson’s collection in Wilhelm R. Valentiner’s 1914 catalogue of Johnson’s collection. Valentiner, German, French, Spanish and English Paintings and Art Objects, vol. 3 of Catalogue of a Collection of Paintings and Some Art Objects, by Bernard Berenson and Valentiner (Philadelphia: John G. Johnson, 1914), pp. 174, 363 (illus.), cat. 1133, archives.philamuseum.org/jgj/N686J64C31913-1914v3_001.

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