The Taddei Tondo (2)

I have now seen the Taddei Tondo freshly installed in the Michelangelo & Sebastiano exhibition at the National Gallery (opens Wednesday).   It’s hung lower than it was in the Sackler Gallery – at eye height, with much clearer glass and more distant lighting to create the necessary deeper shadows.   It’s possible to appreciate much better the marks of the claw chisel, the bulk of the goldfinch held over the body of the Christ Child, the wonderful three-dimensionality of the modelling of the Virgin’s neck, and the contrasts in the marble between the half worked out rough and the fully worked out smooth.   What it shows most obviously is the extraordinary sense of contrapposto in the way that the Christ Child moves sideways in a direction opposite to the Madonna and of his muscular solidity as he writhes in the stone.   And I have also learned that it originally hung, after being presented to the RA by George Beaumont, in its library on the ground floor of the east side of the National Gallery building (where the grab-and-go now is).

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