Andrew Butterfield and Donatello
On Wednesday October 21, 2015, Andrew Butterfield, a dealer specializing in Renaissance art, announced that a 65cm high wooden sculpture of a putto he had purchased in 2012 was likely a work by the artist from 15th century Donatello. It took real detective work to convince him that this rare sculpture was by the hand of the Florentine master, which would certainly be worth several million dollars if the experts were unanimous in declaring it authentic. Coming from the collection of an Italian family who had owned it for decades, this sculpture was then acquired by a Tuscan merchant who bequeathed it to his son, an art professor in Rome. No serious study has been carried out or had been made about it for half a century because a curator in the 1960s had judged a similar work belonging to the Boston museum as not being by Donatello. For many years, no one had dared to deny this opinion expressed by a specialist of the Middle Ages and not of the Renaissance, whereas the experts of this period were generally more at ease with paintings than with sculptures, said Butterfield who has been credited with several finds of artworks by Bernini, Ghiberti, Mantegna and now possibly Donatello. If this sculpture crossed all the obstacles of expertise, it would certainly be the most beautiful of the discoveries of this dealer who regretted that things were dragging on. However, the specialists he called on found several rather conclusive clues, such as the presence of an iron fastener on the back of the cherub to hang it on a wall, as was done in the 1430s. "It's a solid indication," said Eike Schmidt, recently appointed head of the Uffizi Gallery in Florence, who added that Donatello's track was the most serious, while Francesco Caglioti, one of the specialists in Donatello shared his opinion by pointing out details common to the works of the latter such as the style of the wings, the carving of the hair and the posture of the subject which rests on his right foot. Caglioti thought that Donatello was largely involved in the execution of this sculpture in his studio to carry out a personal project for a church or a palace inspired by the sculptures of Eros of ancient Rome which elsewhere influenced many Renaissance artists. We knew, however, from the writings of historians that Donatello had made angels during his career and this sculpture, which is in better condition than that of the Boston museum, would therefore be the first of this type. It remains to estimate its value once authenticated, knowing that a terracotta relief representing the Virgin and the Child Jesus was sold at Sotheby's in 2008 for 5.6 million dollars despite doubts expressed by certain specialists as to its paternity. When purchased by Butterfield, this sculpture covered actually stood on its own two feet with a post-Renaissance wooden piece added below the left and at the start this had raised doubts in the mind of Leslie Ransick Gat who had undertaken to restore it. It took X-ray analysis and weeks of study for her to realize that the angel was actually standing on one foot as if about to dance or fly away. From there, she was convinced that it was probably a work of Donatello himself because no other artist before him had imagined producing a sculpture standing on the end of a single foot, which was a feat of the first magnitude in terms of balance.
seen on Le Journal d'un fou d'art- Adrian Darmon
Andrew Butterfield on Verrochio, 43 minutes video Andrew Butterfield website:
On Wednesday October 21, 2015, Andrew Butterfield, a dealer specializing in Renaissance art, announced that a 65cm high wooden sculpture...