Before 1896, after original of second half of the 15th century - first half of the 16th century
20 in. x 16 in. (50.8 cm x 40.64 cm)
Bryn Mawr College
W.690 (Wyndham No.)
Fine and Visual Arts; Sculptures; Terracottas
Bryn Mawr College, Wyndham Alumnae House, 1st Floor
This glazed ceramic depicts the Madonna kneeling in adoration before the Christ Child. The Madonna wears a floor-length, long-sleeved dress and a cloak with hood raised to cover her haloed head. She looks down at the child with her hands together. At her feet, the Christ Child reclines on a grassy slope and raises his hand in a gesture of address. He is wrapped in cloth from the waist down and a halo encircles his head. Also upon the grassy slope is a group of lilies bloom as a symbol of innocence and purity. Above, two cherub heads, encircled with halos, look down from their winged perch. At the top, two hands hold a crown above Mary to remind the viewer of Mary’s future as the queen of heaven. Thus, a single scene encapsulates the Madonna’s role as the Mother of God from the virgin birth of Christ to her ascension into heaven.
The piece is a 19th century Italian reproduction of a work by the Renaissance artist, Andrea della Robbia (1435-1525), nephew of the famed Luca della Robbia (c.1400-1482). The Della Robbia workshop was famed for its glazed ceramic sculpture featuring white figures on a blue background. The original Madonna of the Lilies is now located in the Bargello Museum in Florence. The reproduction was most likely created by the Cantagalli Workshop (Manifattura Cantagalli) in Florence, founded by brothers Ulisse and Giuseppe Cantagalli in 1878. The Cantagalli’s signature, a sketched drawing of a cock, is located on the bottom of the piece.
This piece came to the College as one of the many works of art purchased by M. Carey Thomas. Thomas, the first dean and second president of the college, traveled extensively and the pieces she collected furnished her home at the Deanery. This plaque, which depicts the Madonna and Child, is one of the many works of religious art that were purchased to decorate the Deanery, which together represent many of the major world religions (including Buddhism, Christianity, and Islam). It can be seen in early (ca. 1896) photographs of the Deanery, and it hung in the Adelaide Neall Porch during the Alumnae Association era (1930s to 1960s).
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- Refers to any of various hard, brittle, heat-resistant and corrosion-resistant materials made by shaping and then firing a nonmetallic mineral, such as clay, at a high temperature.
- Flat, thin, usually small objects, made of metal, clay, ivory, glass, or basketry, sometimes set into a surface for decoration or to bear an inscription.
- Refers to the intellectual movement, style, and culture that originated in Italy in the late 14th century, spread throughout Europe, and culminated in the 16th century. Style is characterized by a deliberate reference to the art, architecture, literature, and ideals of Classical Rome and Greece.
- Copies of art images, art objects, decorative arts, or other valued images or objects, made without intent to deceive; with regard to art images, it includes photographic reproductions. The term implies more precise and faithful imitation than does the term "copies (derivative objects)." Where the intent is to deceive, see "forgeries" or "counterfeits." For prints copying other two-dimensional works, typically dating from before the widespread use of photography, use "reproductive prints."
- Three-dimensional works of art in which images and forms are produced in relief, in intaglio, or in the round. The term refers particularly to art works created by carving or engraving a hard material, by molding or casting a malleable material (which usually then hardens), or by assembling parts to create a three-dimensional object. It is typically used to refer to large or medium-sized objects made of stone, wood, bronze, or another metal. Small objects are typically referred to as "carvings" or another appropriate term. "Sculpture" refers to works that represent tangible beings, objects, or groups of objects, or are abstract works that have defined edges and boundaries and can be measured. As three-dimensional works become more diffused in space or time, or less tangible, use appropriate specific terms, such as "mail art" or "environmental art."