Madonna And Child – Donatello

The poignant drama of the relation between the Child Christ and His Mother filled the mind of the sculptor of this relief, who handled the theme with ever-growing intensity in the frequent repetitions of the subject which every artist of the time was called upon to execute. Donatello was a prophet in his generation and his work has an austere strength and a deep poetic quality found only in the creations of supreme masters. His Madonnas are majestic in their mingled tragedy and tenderness, qualities which in this example are reflected to the full. Donatello made a number of similar reliefs in terracotta of which that known as the Veronese Madonna exists in several repetitions, one of which was purchased by the Museum two years ago. It differs somewhat from the Madonna in the Altman Collection, but both show a general similarity of type and may be ascribed to the same period in the master’s work, when toward the middle of the fifteenth century he was in Padua executing his superb sculptures for the Church of S. Antonio. The Altman relief was at one time attributed to Michelozzo, the contemporary and fellow-workman, although scarcely the equal, of Donatello, but the attribution to the greater artist is now generally accepted. The relief, which is en-closed in a characteristic frame of the period, was formerly in the collection of Rodolphe Kann in Paris. It is illustrated in Schubring’s Donatello, Klassiker der Kunst, XI, p. 131.