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Image of Madonna and Child

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Andrea della Robbia
Italian (Florence, 1435 - 1525 or 1528, Florence) Primary

Madonna and Child

Before 1896, after original of second half of the 15th century - first half of the 16th century
State: Reproduction

20 in. x 16 in. (50.8 cm x 40.64 cm)
Bequest of M. Carey Thomas, President of Bryn Mawr College, 1894-1922

Bryn Mawr College
Accession Number: Deanery.7
Other Number(s): W.690 (Wyndham No.)
Classification: Fine and Visual Arts; Sculptures; Terracottas
Collection: Deanery Collection
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).

Bryn Mawr College, Wyndham Alumnae House, 1st Floor

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<ref name=BMC>cite web |url= |title=Madonna and Child |author=Bryn Mawr College Library Special Collections |accessdate=6/19/2021 |publisher=Bryn Mawr College</ref>

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