Originally this putto, and five further figures of children, surmounted the tabernacle that rose from the baptismal font in the Siena Baptistery. These little bronzes not only marked the entry of the putto motif into art history. They also heralded the Renaissance freestanding nude in the manner of antiquity, and the later motif of the figura serpentinata, which so concisely identifies sixteenth-century Mannerism. The space-grabbing posture of the putto, a classical contrapposto with a full-length turn of the body, is caused by the need of the putto to balance on the narrow, vaulted surface of a shell while jubilantly making music.


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