Italian sculpture of the 15th to 20th centuries is represented by a modest but representative collection. The gem of the Early Renaissance period is the marble relief Madonna and Child by Antonio Rossellino, one of the leading 15th-century Florentine sculptors, and Florence also produced the della Robbia family, represented here by a number of characteristic terracotta works.
The Venetian Antonio Lombardo produced the decorative marbles which once decorated the study of Alfonso d'Este, almost all of which - over 30 reliefs - are now in the Hermitage. Such examples of Italian decorative sculpture are extremely rare.
Russia has only one work by Michelangelo, the sculpture Crouching Boy (1530-1534), intended for the Medici Chapel in Florence, and now prominently displayed in the Hermitage.
The terracotta figures and models for large sculptures by masters of the 17th-18th centuries often display more freedom and emotion than the final marbles, and this is particularly noticeable in examples by the leading sculptor and architect, Gianlorenzo Bernini: The Ecstasy of St Theresa, St Constantine the Great and a fragment of the master's self-portrait.
A fine marble group, The Death of Adonis, represents one of Bernini's leading pupils, Giuseppe Mazzuoli.
The Hermitage has a remarkable collection of 15 works by the most prominent Italian sculptor of the late 18th to early 19th centuries, Antonio Canova. Cupid and Psyche (1800), The Penitent Magdalene (1809), and Dancer (1811) illustrate the variety of subjects which attracted the master.
The Russian Emperor Nicholas I commissioned many works from Canova's successors and thus P.Tenerari, L.Bartilini, G.Dupre and others are well represented in the Hermitage, heir to the imperial collections.
The collection of Italian sculpture is still being expanded owing to gifts from contemporary sculptors such as Francesco Messina, Emilio Greco, Giacomo Manzu and Venanzo Crocetti.
If you enjoyed this collection, you might want to also visit the other collections at the State Hermitage Museum.
Italian Painting: 13th - 18th c