This exceptional piece of Carrara marble, sculpted in bas-relief and dating from the early Italian Renaissance, represents God the Father in an architectural setting. In the center of the room, in an alcove with three architraves, God the Father is enthroned, blessing with his right hand and holding the holy book in his left. The alcove itself is decorated with flowers, flaming torches and a garland. The edges of the room are adorned with two Corinthian style pilasters decorated with fire pots, vases, flowers and beads. This finely crafted piece, in a very good state of preservation, was part of a larger carved set. It could be a marble altarpiece, a funerary monument, a tabernacle or other decorative element with a sacred character.
This piece is to be compared with the works of one of the greatest sculptors of the Quattrocento: Andrea Bregno (c. 1418 – 1503/6). Andrea di Cristoforo Bregno was born into a family of Lombard sculptors and was trained in the workshop of his father, who was one of the architects of the ducal palace in Venice. Thanks to his talent and the success of the project in the ducal palace, Bregno left to work in Rome when Paul II, a Venetian, was elected pope. It was under the next pope, Sixtus IV, that he gained prominence on the Roman artistic scene, as he created large monuments and tombs for the cardinals of the curia. Close to the humanist circles of his time and to the papal court, his talent is also mentioned by Raphael’s father. A close friend of the director of the Pontifical Library and a collector of ancient sculptures, Bregno was a modern and “culturally up-to-date” artist. His work is characteristic of the production made in Rome in the fifteenth century: he is inspired by ancient and paleochristian art, while bringing to his works a touch of modernity through Tuscan influences. His works are known to be very refined, carried out with great care and rigorous technique. He played an important role in the standardization of the so-called “classical” style of the early Renaissance, especially in funerary monuments, which he made his specialty.
One of his last achievements was a monumental altar in the cathedral of Siena which he completed in 1503. He died in Rome between 1503 and 1506 and was buried in the Santa Mari sopra Minerva. His career was long and prosperous, the activity of his workshop was particularly rich and this even after his death. Compared to Polyclitus in his epitaph, represented in Perugino’s fresco: The Handing over of the Keys to St. Peter in the Sistine Chapel (1481) and seen by some as a source of inspiration for the young Michelangelo, Andrea Bregno is one of the greatest sculptors of the 15th century.
Our work is an example of this new stylistic breath: refined and elegant, which lays the foundations of what we call today the Renaissance.