Michele da Firenze worked with Lorenzo Ghiberti on the famous Baptistery doors in Florence between ca. 1404 and 1407. His early independent work comprised mostly private devotional terracottas, such as the Virgin and Child with Saints (no.7572-1861) or the Virgin and Child with six Angels (no.73-1866) both in the V&A, London. Around 1430 he is believed to have made the terracotta monument to Francesco Roselli in S. Francesco, Arezzo. Michele da Firenze's most important works are the 17 impressive terracotta panels of the life of Christ and figures of Saints that decorate the Pellegrini Chapel in S. Anastasia in Verona (before 1438). In the late 1430s and early 1440s Michele worked in Ferrara (where he was already active around 1427), Modena and Reggio. Between 1448 and 1457 he was active in Pesaro with his son and collaborator Marsilio. This unpublished model has been attributed to Michele da Firenze by Dr. Francesco Caglioti. The composition can be compared in particular to the relief in the V&A, no. 73-1866, in which the Christ Child rests his arm across the top of the Virgin's chest. Further comparison can be made with a relief of the Virgin and Child in the Bargello, Florence, no. 265 (Inv. 1879) in which the faces, drapery and overall treatment of the relief are very close. Both the V&A and Bargello reliefs still manifest a Florentine late Gothic syle, however, the forms in the present stucco are handled in a more rounded manner that indicates a date in the 1430s. A related polychromed stucco sold in the Elia Volpi auction in New York in 1927, lot 414, demonstrates the success of this new type. Whilst the Volpi stucco is set into a glazed terracotta wreath with cherubs and fruit from the workshop of Della Robbia, the present relief represents a more original format. We are grateful to Dr. Francesco Caglioti for his advice in cataloguing this lot.
J. Pope-Hennessy, Catalogue of Italian Sculpture in the Victoria and Albert Museum, London, 1964, pp. 65-69; A. Galli, "Michele da Firenze: i problemi dell'attività giovanile," Prospettiva 68 (1992), pp. 13-29: A. Galli, in Crocevia estense: contributi per la storia della scultura a Ferrara nel XV secolo, Ferrara 2007, pp. 18-24, 33-37
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