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The Death of the Virgin (fragment)

Arnolfo di Cambioc. 1300

Bode-Museum, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin

Bode-Museum, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin
Berlin, Germany

This fragment, badly damaged in May 1945, was the centrepiece of a figural group depicting the death of the Virgin Mary that Arnolfo di Cambio made as part of a cycle on the life of the Virgin that was in the tympanum of the right portal of Florence cathedral’s old façade, demolished in 1587. A double bust of two apostles, part of the same group, is also in Berlin. The sculptural quality of the undamaged halffigure of St. John the Apostle, with its head reminiscent of Hellenistic sculpture, and the monumental character of the entire marble block show a grandeur that makes this fragment, despite the destruction of Mary’s face, one of the most magnificent works in the history of Italian art.

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