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Putto Carrying a Festoon
Base with a Masque

Benedetto da Maiano, Italian (active Florence), 1442 - 1497. Base made by Artist/maker unknown, Italian.

Made in Florence, Italy, Europe

Completed 1489; 16th-century base

Marble; 16th-century marble base

Figure without base: 22 × 13 1/2 × 9 1/2 inches (55.9 × 34.3 × 24.1 cm) Base: 8 × 9 × 7 inches (20.3 × 22.9 × 17.8 cm)

Curatorial Department:
European Painting

* Gallery 309, European Art 1100-1500, third floor

Accession Number:
Cat. 1133

Credit Line:
John G. Johnson Collection, 1917

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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.

* Works in the collection are moved off view for many different reasons. Although gallery locations on the website are updated regularly, there is no guarantee that this object will be on display on the day of your visit.