Vision of St. Bernard
ANDREA CONTUCCI, known as SANSOVINO; 1502–5.White majolica with a pinkish blush; on the back, clear spatula marks and drops of enamel.
H. max. 27.5 cm.; w. max. 32 cm; d. 17 cm..Condition: excellent.
Provenance: Florence, formerly Riccardi Collection.
Exhibitions: Rome 2010, Museo Nazionale di Palazzo Venezia, The Form of the Renaissance – Donatello, Andrea Bregno, Michelangelo and Sculpture in 15th Century Rome.
Bibliography: Gentilini 1992, p. 443.
Gardelli, Exhibition Catalogue 2010, pp. 352 - 353.This multi-figure sculptural group in perfect condition tells the story of an event in the life of St. Bernard. The Cistercian saint is depicted in a cave, in ecstasy, while having a mystic vision of the Virgin supported by two angels. On his right, in a position counterbalancing that of the Virgin, a demon is portrayed in accordance with medieval tradition, displaying a swollen belly, bat's wings and goat's hooves, his arms outstretched to the heavens and his face a mask of snarling hatred.
The group, a unique piece of superlative quality, may be dated to a period in Italian figurative history falling between the late 15th and early 16th centuries, when the glazed terracotta technique was also embraced by the country's leading sculptors such as Andrea Cantucci known as Sansovino, to whom this work has been attributed with a safe margin of certainty. The artist, known today primarily for his output in marble, was also extremely skilled at modelling clay and indeed his glazed terracotta statues may be found in churches more or less throughout Tuscany.