Adoration of the Magi

Unknown Italian, Italian

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early 16th century

Bronze

Overall: 8 1/2 × 4 13/16 × 1/4 in. (21.6 × 12.2 × 0.7 cm)

Weight: 717 g (1.6 lb.)

Hood Museum of Art, Dartmouth: Roger Arvid Anderson Collection - 250th Anniversary Gift, 1769-2019

2016.64.178

Geography

Place Made: Italy, Europe

Period

1400-1600

Object Name

Sculpture: Plaquette

Research Area

Sculpture

On view

Label

These low-relief images depict important religious narrative scenes and Christian figures. Representations of Christ’s descent from the cross and his burial were especially popular subjects because they visualized the physical nature of Christ’s death and resurrection; other scenes allowed viewers to meditate on specific saints or biblical stories. Devotional plaquettes had many uses and were commonly owned in Italy at the turn of the 16th century. Framed and attached to a handle, they could become a pax for use during the Mass. They could also be set into boxes or cabinet doors or pierced and hung on a wall in a private space. Small-scale plaquettes could even be kept in a pocket. The addition of a family’s coat of arms allowed patrons to further personalize a plaquette. While they were mass produced, plaquettes were often used for personal devotion, as suggested by the patterns of wear on the surface of these reliefs, which indicate repeated touching. This selection of plaquettes suggests the diversity of sculptural production for religious use in this period.

From the 2024 exhibition Living with Sculpture: Presence and Power in Europe, 1400–1750, curated by Elizabeth Rice Mattison, Andrew W. Mellon Curator of Academic Programming and Curator of European Art, and Ashley Offill, Curator of Collections

Exhibition History

Living with Sculpture: Presence and Power in Europe, 1400–1750, Citrin Family Gallery and Engles Family Gallery, Hood Museum of Art, Dartmouth College, Hanover, New Hampshire, March 23, 2024–March 22, 2025.

Publication History

Roger Arvid Anderson, The Roger Arvid Anderson Collection, Medals, Medallions, Plaquettes and Small Reliefs, Paintings, Sculpture, Works on Paper and Textiles, San Francisco: Roger Arvid Anderson (published privately), design by David L. Wilson, 2015, p. 160.

Provenance

Morton & Eden Ltd, Coins, Historical Medals and Paper Money, Auction 64, lot 628, London, England, June 5, 2013; sold to Roger Arvid Anderson, San Francisco, California, June 2013; lent to present collection, 2013; given to present collection, 2016.

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