Skip to Content

Object Results

Showing 1 of 1


Madonna and Child

polychromed stucco on wood frame
31 1/8 in. (79.06 cm)
Currier Funds, 1941.3

Antonio Rossellino



This shallow relief by Antonio Rossellino depicts the Madonna with the infant Jesus, seated on a carved bench in an enclosed rose garden. The variously colored, or polychrome, stucco retains its original tabernacle frame (sometimes called an aedicular frame). The frame is composed of fluted pilasters on both sides and an architectural framework beneath the base and above. The frame shows signs of wear, and the projection supporting the upper part of the frame, called a corbel, is a modern replacement. An arch above the frame contains a white dove symbolizing the Holy Spirit. Three ornaments, of which only the middle one remains, originally crowned the frame. Inscribed on the framework directly above the image is the Latin phrase “ECCE VIRGO CONCIPIET E[T PARIET FILIUM]” from the biblical book of Isaiah, chapter 7, verse 14: “Behold, a young woman shall conceive [and bear a son].” The base of the frame bears the Latin phrase “AVE MARIA GRATIA PLENA” (“Hail Mary, full of grace”). In the lower right corner of the frame is a family crest of a wild boar with a silver belt around its middle, facing left. In the lower left corner is the outline of another family crest, but no trace of the design remains.


The modest size of this relief, its subject, and the indication of family crests all suggest that the object was a wedding gift, wishing the newlyweds a happy and fruitful marriage. The relief probably hung in the couple’s private quarters, where they made their prayers nightly. In this setting, themes of salvation, fidelity, and divine intervention assisted the faithful in their spiritual devotion. The Holy Spirit in the form of a dove is a reference to the New Testament, which states that Jesus was conceived by the Holy Spirit and born of the Virgin Mary (Matthew 1:20; Luke 1:35). The enclosed garden portrayed behind the figure of Mary symbolizes her chastity, and the white rose, in particular, refers to her purity (Psalm 4:12). The red roses in the garden and the red coral necklace worn by the baby allude to Jesus’s blood, a symbol of life and death, and redemption.

The baby Jesus and the text from Isaiah are references to childbirth. The red coral necklace and the text below (“Hail Mary, full of grace”) express a wish for good health and divine protection. Parents placed similar necklaces around the necks of infants during the 1400s as tokens of protection. This desire for a healthy, large family was a dominant concern for any newly married couple during the 1400s, when the rates of infant mortality and death of the mother during childbirth were high.

Recent research suggests that the relief was a gift to the Florentine merchant Battista d’Antonio Veneri (1436–1497) and Nanna Talduccio di Talducci, daughter of a notary, upon their marriage in 1462. The couple, in fact, had a large family of at least seven children. The couple’s gravesite is in the Church of San Marco, Florence. The same wild boar located on the lower right of the relief frame adorns their tombstone.


In its composition, this relief resembles the Currier’s Antonio Rimpatta and Joos van Cleve paintings of Mary and the infant Jesus (Currier, 1987.7 and Currier, 1956.5 ). In all three images, the baby Jesus is depicted nude, demonstrating his dual nature as both divine and human. Likewise, Mary is dressed similarly in blue and red. The color blue symbolizes heaven and refers to Mary’s role as Queen of Heaven, and the color red is a reference to Jesus’s sacrifice. All three of these images were intended for private devotion.

Written by Kurt J. Sundstrom


Moskowitz, Anita F. “The Case of Giovanni Bastianini: A Fair and Balanced View.” Artibus et Historiae 25, no. 50 (2004): 157–85.

Moskowitz, Anita F. Forging Authenticity: Bastianini and the Neo-Renaissance in Nineteenth-Century Florence. Florence: L. S. Olschki, 2013.

Pope-Hennessy, John. The Study and Criticism of Italian Sculpture. New York, 1980.

Pope-Hennessy, John, assisted by Ronald Lightbown. Catalogue of Italian Sculpture in the Victoria and Albert Museum. 3 vols. London, 1964.

1938 Detroit Institute of Arts, Detroit, MI, "Eighteenth Loan Exhibition of Old Masters." Jan. 7 - Feb. 20.

1939 Acquavella Galleries, New York, NY.

Estate of Robert De Forest
Purchased by Nicholas M. Aquavella Gallery, New York, NY
Purchased by Currier Gallery of Art, November 24, 1941

Additional Images
Additional Image Crest
Additional Image Detail
Additional Image Detail
Additional Image Detail of dove
Detail of dove
Additional Image Red flower
Red flower
Additional Image White flower
White flower

Your current search criteria is: [Objects_1]Sort_Artist contains "Rossellino, Antonio".