In this white marble relief, two young cherubs, one at each side of the sculpture, hold an abundant garland enriched with entwined acanthus leaves and pinecones resting over a series of curling festoons.
The theme of Putti holding garlands was very popular in the Italian renaissance.
Some of the most renowned artists from that pivotal period often in fact included the scene in their paintings and sculptures. In particular, the theme was used in important funerary monuments created in the 15th Century, such as the tomb created in 1454-56 by Luca della Robbia for Benozzo Federighi.
A few decades previously, Donatello had sculpted the admirable funerary monument dedicated to Giovanni di Bicci and Piccarda Bueri, housed in the Basilica of San Lorenzo in Florence, which also shows putti holding garlands.
The work that is most similar to our own example is, however, the funerary monument made in 1406-1408 by Jacopo della Quercia for Ilaria del Carretto, a noblewoman from Lucca.
The tomb, much admired by John Ruskin, features a rectangular base adorned by putti holding festoons carved in the marble.
The similarities between Lucca’s tomb and our relief can clearly be noted in the figures of the putti and their pose, as well as the composition of the garlands.
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