Font

Font

Acquired in exchange from the former Königlichen Museen (Gipsformerei, Berlin) in 1886

Original:

Font
Stefano di Giovanni, known as Sassetta (active 1428; d. 1450) and Sano di Pietro
1416-34
Marble and bronze
Baptistry of S. Giovanni, Siena, Italy

The font was executed by four Sienese and two Florentine sculptors and goldsmiths, working with assistants between 1416 and 1434. Two Sienese painters were also involved. In 1427, Stefano di Giovanni, known as Sassetta (active 1428; d.1450) produced a drawing for the font, while in 1429, his pupil, Sano di Pietro (about 1405-81) was paid for ornamenting the font with blue and gold. This cast was given to the Victoria and Albert Museum by the Königliche Museen zu Berlin in 1886.

The cast differs from the original in Siena in two respects:
1. Damaged parts: The imitation bronze reliefs show damage not suffered by the originals as the cast is made from more vulnerable material.
2. Putti: Of the original six putti around the top of the tabernacle, only the front four remain at Siena. A fifth putto, holding a tambourine (no.11) was acquired by the Königliche Museen zu Berlin in 1902, and is now in the Staatliche Museen, West Berlin, museum.no. 2653. A sixth putto, which appears on the cast (no.12) is no longer on the font, but is preserved in the Museo Nazionale (Bargello), Florence. The presence of this putto on the cast (first noted by Wilhelm Bode) provides the only direct evidence to support the view that the putto in the Bargello once stood on the font in Siena.