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Putti in Art: From the Renaissance to the 18th Century

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Putti in Art: From the Renaissance to the 18th Century

Putti are chubby, sometimes winged, and often naked childlike figures that were derived from Greco-Roman depictions of Eros. Putti were common motifs in art from the Renaissance through the 18th century. There are many artworks featuring putti in The Metropolitan Museum, which provide a glimpse into how these figures were represented in different periods of history.

The Last Judgment

Netherlandish, Cleve ca. 1485–1540/41 Antwerp / The Met

    This majestic scene is divided into heavenly and earthly zones, which are linked by two hovering angels blowing trumpets.
   Christ appears at the moment of judgment in a burst of light and color, surrounded by clouds and putti and flanked by the apostles
   He blesses the saved, shown at lower left, while Saint Michael shepherds the damned into hell burning in the distance at the right.

Bacchanal: A Faun Teased by Children

Italian, Naples 1598–1680 Rome / The Met

    Gian Lorenzo Bernini was the heroic central figure in Italian Baroque sculpture.
    The influence of his father, the Florentine-born Pietro, can be seen here in the buoyant forms and cottony texture of the Bacchanal.
    The liveliness and strongly accented diagonals, however, are the distinctive contribution of the young Gian Lorenzo.
    Although about eighteen when he made this work, he already displayed what would become a lifelong interest in the rendering of emotional and spiritual exaltation.

Pair of candlesticks

French, Turin 1695–1750 Paris / The Met

    In 1728, a design for a candlestick by Juste-Aurele Meissonnier (1695-1750) incorporated a pair of entwined children in its spirally twisted stem.
    The three drawings for this model were engraved by Louis Desplaces (1682-1739) and published in Deuxième livre de l'oeuvre de J.
   A Meissonnier, Chandeliers de sculpture en argent in 1734.
    This highly sculptural model proved to be very fashionable and was executed with variations both in gilt bronze and in porcelain (an example from the famous Meissen swan service for Count Bruhl of 1739 is on view in the German and Austrian Galleries).

Angelica and Medoro

French, Paris 1703–1770 Paris / The Met

    This painting is based on Ludovico Ariosto's epic poem Orlando Furioso.
    It depicts Angelica, the pagan daughter of an imaginary king of China, who abandoned the Christian knight Orlando for the knight Medoro, a North African Muslim.

The Glorification of the Giustiniani Family

Italian, Venice 1727–1804 Venice / The Met

    This oil sketch is a precious record of a ceiling in Genoa's ducal palace that was destroyed in the 1860s.
    Tiepolo's composition can be compared with his father's ceiling design for Würzburg, which Domenico helped to execute (see the oil sketch for that painting nearby).
    The younger Tiepolo depicted a Giustiniani family patriarch, Jacopo, at the top of a staircase, kneeling before a personification of the Ligurian Republic.

The Sacrifice of Iphigenia

Italian, San Matteo della Decima 1734–1802 Bologna / The Met

    This oil sketch for a ceiling in Palazzo Gnudi Scagliarini in Bologna takes its subject from the Greek playwright Euripides ca. 480 - 406 BC
    Agamemnon's daughter is about to be sacrificed to appease the goddess Diana, who at the climactic moment appears and substitutes a deer on the altar.

The Birth of Venus

French, Montpellier 1823–1889 Paris / The Met

    The first version of Cabanel's Birth of Venus (Musée d'Orsay, Paris) created a sensation at the Salon of 1863, which was dubbed the "Salon of the Venuses" owing to the number of alluring nudes on view.
    The Salon picture was purchased by Napoleon III for his personal collection.
    In 1875, New Yorker John Wolfe commissioned the present, slightly smaller, replica from Cabanel.

From 14th Century To 15th Century

From 14th Century To 15th Century

During the 14th and 15th centuries, artists in Europe began to break away from the traditional Gothic style. They began to experiment with new techniques and styles, resulting in a period of great creativity and innovation in the arts. Some of the most famous artworks from this period include the paintings of Leonardo da Vinci and Michelangelo, and the sculptures of Donatello. Box with Romance Scenes     This coffret illustrated with scenes from Arthurian and other courtly literature of the M
-5 min read
From 1819 To 1826

From 1819 To 1826

The 19th century was a time of great change in the world of art. Artists began to experiment with new styles and media, and the art world was forever changed as a result. Some of the most famous artists of the time include Vincent van Gogh, Claude Monet, and Pablo Picasso. The Falls of Niagara     The painting is of Niagara Falls from the Canadian side.     The painting is based on a vignette of the falls from a map of North America published by Henry S. Tanner in 1822. Heroic Landscape w
-4 min read
From 1787 To 1800

From 1787 To 1800

The 18th century was a time of great change in the world of art. New styles and genres emerged, and artists began to experiment with new techniques and materials. The art of the 18th century reflected the changing times, and the growing interest in the natural world and the human form. Elizabeth Farren (born about 1759, died 1829), Later Countess of Derby     The Irish actress Elizabeth Farren made her London debut in 1777 and soon became one of the most popular comic performers of the day.  
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