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ID number:  BIRBI-50.11
Institution:  The Barber Institute of Fine Arts
Artist / Maker:  Italian
Title / Object name:  Bust of a Youth (St John the Baptist?)
Object type:  Sculpture
Place made:  Florence
Culture:  Italian
Date made:  Late 19th or early 20th century, in the style of about 1500
Materials:  Terracotta, polychromed
Measurements:  43.1 x 46.4 x 23 cm
Provenance:  Purchased at Sotheby's sale of Herny Harris's estate (deceased), 24/25 October 1950, lot 128, for £240
BIRBI-50.11.jpg

Although probably made considerably later, as a pastiche, this work reflects the popularity for such terracotta busts in Renaissance Florence. It is based on a roundel by Andrea della Robbia (1435-1525), which represents St Ansanus. It is quite likely, however, that this is meant to be the young John the Baptist, a patron saint of the city. Florentine parents were encouraged to provide examples of good behaviour for their offspring by decorating the home with images of ‘model’ children, particularly the young Baptist.

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