The work finds his full reference in the Renaissance canon of the structural order that regulates the representation of the human body following balanced relationships between its components, conditioned by the logic of the weights. The carried load leans on the straight leg,while the other leg is softly willowy, so the body, even if it remains static and neat, expresses a measured vitality. The vertical line vibrates in a harmonic counterpoint: the head moves forward, the chest moves back,the recoiling hip responds to the fixed one. The focus is on the arm where the Child leans on and, from here, the slight downward rotation, that animates the figure, departs. The light glides on the very smooth surfaces and gathers in the thin folds in order to wrap the shaped work by a varying and controlled rhythm. Everything is controlled by a sinuous coordinating line: it rises suddenly from behind the thin neck according to two almost symmetrical tributaries combining at the child�s hand, that seems to tie them, from here down again with greater energy along the chest, then it reaches the Woman�s standing arm to wrap it like a whirlwind; and rises slowly toward the fulcrum from where, having been removed from the Child�s restless leg, it reclaims energy spreading into numerous rivulets that descend toward the base where, at the resistance of the pedestal, they answer curling into tiny and nervous waves. On the body, the chiaroscuro rhythms develop with a variety of mood, but the source of light seems to be on the face and on the neck, where there is no hint of folds and everything is flare. A mind work, a rational design that however manages to express the naturalness of things and to communicate a feeling of sweetness, offering the image of a delicate teenager, loaded by the grueling weight of being the Mother of the Messiah. Arch. Natale Proto The marble sculpture, now kept in the Diocesan Museum, originally belonged to the Convent of Santa Maria delle Grazie in Nicastro, managed by Franciscan Friars for much of the fifteenth century and an apostolic Brief by Innocent VIII dated 1492 confirms the building to the Dominicans who had been occupying it for few years. After the earthquake of 1638,it became the Monastery of Poor Clares and in the nineteenth century the diocesan seminary established there. The depiction in the pedestal front side showing St. Francis receiving the stigmata, and those in the side walls, showing the presence of a monk and a nun praying, confirm that the work belongs to the Franciscan Friars. The inscription, which has no clear interpretation, could suggest that the statue was entrusted, to be preserved, to the Friar Giovanni from Nicastro. The sculpture, initially coloured and golden in some parts, underwent a rough intervention of repainting and in recent times it has been inadequately cleaned to bring the marble to view; a real abrasion which eliminated both the inaccurate repainting and the original draft, of which only small traces of gold in some recesses remain. The fluid shaping of the work, tending to a delicate pictorialism, together with a structural clearness of Brunelleschi�s style and a decorative Lombard taste, with echoes of a late Gothic, recalling Ghiberti�s experience, lead to attribute the sculpture to Domenico Gagini, who worked between the Genoa, Naples and Sicily area in the second half of the 5th century and was, according to Filarete and Vasari, one of Brunelleschi�s pupil influenced by Ghiberti�s style. This work of art, of �Nicastrese� origin, finds formal references to Gagini�s other works which are kept in Palma Mallorca, in Naples and Syracuse and, in particular with the Madonna with Child, kept in Marsala. Frangipane attributes the work to Domenico Gagini or to the school to him coeval; certainly the work cannot belong to his son Antonello, who lived between 1478 and 1536, both for stylistic reasons and because when the work was commissioned, he was still a child.
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