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Bust of a woman holding a baby surrounded by a golden arch

A woman holds a baby against her left shoulder, gazing down and to her right. A draped hood covers her curly hair. The baby’s back is to the viewer and his legs rest against the front of the woman’s torso, but his face is pointed toward the viewer. Both mother and child wear draped robes. The figures are an uneven golden-brown color, and their faces are lighter than the rest of their bodies. There is black detailing on their eyes and red pigment at their mouths. Behind the figures is a red textured background in a golden arch-shaped frame.

Gallery Text

In the first half of the fifteenth century, leading Florentine sculptors began to produce plaster and terracotta works, which could easily be cast from molds. Particularly popular were those depicting the Virgin and Child, which increased in both quantity of production and complexity of design during the period. Although none of these works is documented or signed, all were part of a sculptural production that, like prints in the later part of the century, assisted in the dissemination of the sculptural canon, making new artistic ideas available to a wider audience. In his Commentaries, Ghiberti claims to have “helped many painters, sculptors and masons by making them numerous models in wax and clay.” Around fifty examples of this relief, with minor variants, survive, suggesting that production may have lasted for several decades. Such works were used for private devotion in homes or set in exterior tabernacles around the city.

Identification and Creation

Object Number
Workshop of Lorenzo Ghiberti (c. 1381 - 1455)
Previously attributed to Jacopo della Quercia (Jacopo di Pietro d'Angelo), Italian (1367 - 1438)
The Virgin and Child
Work Type
relief, sculpture
c. 1430-1435
Persistent Link


Level 2, Room 2500, European Art, 13th–16th century, Art and Image in Europe
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Physical Descriptions

Terracotta with traces of pigment
framed: 55.9 x 45.1 x 17.1 cm (22 x 17 3/4 x 6 3/4 in.)


Recorded Ownership History
Dr. and Mrs. Paul G. Ecker, Philadelphia, gift; to Fogg Art Museum, 1964.

Acquisition and Rights

Credit Line
Harvard Art Museums/Fogg Museum, Gift of Dr. and Mrs. Paul G. Ecker in memory of Dr. Elliott Carr Cutler
Accession Year
Object Number
European and American Art

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Publication History

  • "Some Recent Acquisitions: Photographs", Fogg Art Museum Acquisitions, 1964, vol. 2, no. 2, 65-114, 1964, p. 70, 129, repr.
  • C.D. Lewis, The Mount Holyoke College Art Museum Handbook of the Collection, ed. Jean C. Harris (South Hadley, MA, 1984), p. 22, note V
  • Geraldine Johnson, "Art or Artefact? Madonna and Child Reliefs in the Early Renaissance", The Sculpted Object, 1400-1700, ed. Stuart Currie and Peta Motture (Aldershot, Hants, U.K., 1997), pp. 5, 10, 15 note 27

Exhibition History

  • 32Q: 2500 Renaissance, Harvard Art Museums, Cambridge, 11/16/2014 - 01/01/2050

Subjects and Contexts

  • Google Art Project

Related Works

Verification Level

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