A Naked Jesus Child

A Naked Jesus Child

With his naked body and standing posture, the right arm raised in the act of blessing, the outstretched left arm perhaps intended to hold a small globe, the big round face with large eyes and dilated pupils, the red cheeks, the rounded eyebrows and meditative gaze, this  Jesus Child can be compared – even if in a slightly advanced period – to the exceptional series of similar wooden figures carved in the Central Italy area and more precisely in Tuscan and Umbria, also by some of the greatest sculptors, since the late 14th century and along the 15th century. In regards to this group of sculptures, it has to be mentioned the well-known Jesus Child made by Francesco di Valdambrino (Siena, c.1375 – 1435), whose size and anatomic features might have been a source of inspiration for the piece here examined.


Francesco di Valdambrino, Christ Child, around 1410-1415. Siena, Pinacoteca Nazionale

Like some 13th and 14th century Jesus Child, where the hair is not carved or modeled in papier-mâché as it will happen quite always in the following centuries, the present piece has a smooth skullcap intended to be completed with other materials.
The iconographic subject of a naked and standing Jesus Child had a large diffusion in several European regions, besides the Central Italian area; in this regard it is worth mentioning the examples from Malines (Mechelen) as well as the Spanish and Portuguese ones, largely widespread in the late Renaissance and Baroque period.
Nevertheless, if compared to the stereotyped Flemish or Iberian Jesus Child, showing more sacred and devotional features, the Italian ones are generally marked by a greater profanity: in this sculpture, as in those of the abovementioned group, the artist aims to render the real appereance of a child, in a representation that meets the viewer’s gaze first of all with its humanity, and only at a later stage  with its religious spirituality.


Polychromed wood
Central Italy
16th Century
Cm 60 h.

References: A. Bagnoli, Scultura dipinta. Maestri di legname e pittori a Siena 1250-1450, exhibition catalogue (Siena, Pinacoteca Nazionale) 1987; F. Siddi, Le rappresentazioni scolpite di Gesù Bambino, in Il Mistero Gioioso. Il Presepe di Greccio e le sculture del Gesù Bambino benedicente, exhibition catalogue (Siena, Santa Maria della Scala), ed by C. Frugoni and F. Siddi, 2012, p. 33-41.

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