Like the earlier “Pazzi Madonna”, this relief depicts Donatello’s characteristic, still medieval presentation of the noble Mother of God, filled with premonition. But in this later work, Donatello, while retaining an undiminished intimacy in the motherand- son togetherness, has opened up the composition to the beholder by altering the posture of the Christ Child. Through a radicalism – uniquely Donatello’s in the fifteenth century – that ignores any formal equilibrium or beauty of line in the interest of greater expressive power, both of their heads and, through the positioning of Mary’s left arm, all their hands are brought together in the centre of the composition. Fire damaged the relief in May 1945, leaving it broken into several pieces and stripped of its magnificent polychromy.


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