Giacomo Piazzetta

Beardless Heretic with Both Arms before Him

c. 1678-1681
These are models for the large wooden figures that once supported bookcases in the library of the Dominican monastery of SS. Giovanni e Paolo, Venice, since lost. The vanquished heretics have been defeated by the doctrine of the Catholic Church - the very doctrine in the weighted books they support. Working in clay or wax was an essential part of a sculptor's creative process, allowing him to explore ideas, which ranged from quick sketches to more finished models such as these. Models could be presented to patrons for approval, and also be used to delegate work to assistants. Functional in origin, they came to be appreciated as works of art in their own right in the 18th century. These examples were later gilded.
Title
Beardless Heretic with Both Arms before Him
Date
c. 1678-1681
Medium
Sculpture
Materials
gilded terracotta
Dimensions
42 x 11.5 x 12 cm
Nationality
Italian
Credit line
Purchased 1981
Accession number
26567.4