This high-relief sculpture offers a rare glimpse of studio practice in the later decades of fifteenth-century Italy. Benedetto da Maiano headed a large and important workshop in Florence, where he produced marble works for significant churches throughout Tuscany and Naples. Like other sculptors of his time, Benedetto first fashioned his designs in terracotta; the resulting modello (final model) provided the example for carving the more expensive marble. It is rare that modelli have survived over the centuries, and this example, created for the central Annunciation scene on the altarpiece made for the Terranova Chapel in Santa Maria de Monte Oliveto (now Sant’Anna dei Lombardi) in Naples, is remarkable for its excellent state of preservation. The nearly full round figures have a credible physical presence, and the tender emotion, conveyed through gesture and facial expression, reflects the humanist interpretation of sacred subjects that defined the innovative art of the Florentine Quattrocento.
From Bulletin of the Detroit Institute of Arts 89 (2015)
Artist Benedetto da Maiano, Italian, 1442-1497
  • God the Father with Two Angels
Date ca. 1489
Medium polychromed terracotta
Dimensions Overall: 14 1/4 × 10 × 2 7/8 inches (36.2 × 25.4 × 7.3 cm)
Credit Line Museum Purchase, Joseph M. de Grimme Memorial Fund, the Stoddard Family Foundation Fund, with funds from Mr. and Mrs. Gilbert Silverman, Mr. and Mrs. Richard Brodie, and Dr. and Mrs. Reginald Harnett
Accession Number 2006.60
Department European Sculpture and Dec Arts
On View European: Medieval and Renaissance W241, Level 2 (see map)
presumably since 1490s, Rasponi Spinelli family (Tuscany, Italy);
(Durlacher Brothers, London, England);
1913, acquired by Oscar Bondy (Vienna, Austria);
by descent to his daughter, Elizabeth Bondy (Vienna, Austria);
1948, Leopold Blumka (Vienna, Austria);
by descent to his widow, Ruth Blumka (New York, New York, USA);
by descent to her son, Anthony Blumka;
January 9-10, 1996, sold by (Sotheby's, New York, New York, USA) "European Works of Art from the Private Collection and Gallery of the Blumka Estate," lot 41;
James Fenton (Oxford, England);
(Salander-O'Reilly Galleries, New York, New York, USA);
2006-present, purchase by the Detroit Institute of Arts (Detroit, Michigan, USA)
Dussler, Luitpold. "A Clay Model by Benedetto da Majano for the Altar in Monte Oliveto, Naples." The Burlington Magazine for Connoisseurs 45, no. 256 (July 1924): 21-23, pp. 21-22 (ill.).

Radcliffe, Anthony, Malcolm Baker, and Michael Maek-Gérard. The Thyssen-Bornemisza Collection: Renaissance and Later Sculpture with Works of Art in Bronze. London, 1992, p. 66 (ill.).

Radke, Gary M. "Benedetto da Maiano and the Use of Full Scale Preparatory Models in the Quattrocento." In Verrocchio and Late Quattrocento Italian Sculpture, ed. Steven Bule et al. Florence, 1992, p. 217, p. 221, fig. 170 (ill.).

European Works of Art from the Private Collection and Gallery of the Blumka Estate. Sales cat., Sotheby's, New York, 9-10 January 1996, no. 41, pp. 50-53 (ill.).

Pope-Hennessy, John. Italian Renaissance Sculpture, 4th ed. London, 1996, p. 382.

Butterfield, Andrew. Early Renaissance Reliefs. New York, 2001, no. 6A (ill.).

Butterfield, Andrew, and Anthony Radcliffe. Italian Sculpture from the Gothic to the Baroque. Exh. cat., Salander-O'Reilly Galleries. New York, 2002, pp. 68-75 (ill.).

Darr, Alan. P. and Brian Gallagher. "Recent acquisitions (2000-2006) of European sculpture and decorative arts at The Detroit Institute of Arts." The Burlington Magazine 149, no. 1251 (June 2007): p. 450, pl. II (ill.).