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Two page boy-shaped candle holders

Romano Alberti detto nero Alberti

Sansepolcro, 1502 – 1568

Material: Mixed media wooden artworks

Size: 78 cm high

review by gherardo turchi

The two wooden artworks were realized by using the mixed media technique. We can appreciate it by focusing on their draperies recalling the earliest sixteenth century Umbrian sculptors, those from San Sepolcro especially. Romano Alberti, better known as Nero today or as Magione master (il maestro di Magione, A/N) in the recent past, was surely the most important of them.

Coming from a family of renowned sculptors, Alberti worked at his workshop in San Sepolcro mainly. However, because of his closest ties with several Roman artists, he had to open an atelier in the Eternal city as well. There, he was asked to realize several panelled ceilings, some wooden sculptures and a lot of items for the main religious celebrations. Those in honour of Saint Roch, the protector against the plague, are such an example.

Alberti also drew on the mixed media technique to realise such artworks as those we are today analysing. Their inner poplar wood structures were usually human being shaped. Some paper-mache or cloth layers were attached to them and suddenly covered with some gypsum. Then, as they got dried, he painted the layers carefully.

Alberti suddenly realized several Virgin Mary, Jesus and Saint John looking manikins. Thanks to their swivelling extremities, it was easier to dress them. On the one side, a lot of young brides were often given them to celebrate the maternity. On the other, nuns were frequently gifted some Jesus as a child looking manikins to praise his birth, at Christmas especially. 

However, Alberti carried out a lot of crucifix looking sculptures, in Rome and San Sepolcro mainly. That at Madonna delle Grazie church, in the Tuscan town, can surely prove that.

He realised the candle holders we’re analysing by using the mixed media technique we’ve previously mentioned. We can surely ascribe them to Alberti by comparing them to some artworks – which are today at some museums or on the antiques market – international critics had put down to the Tuscan artist. Some technical features can prove that.

On the one side, because of the blessing left arm, each candle holder is said to be turning to the audience. On the other, because of their drilled earlobes – which were used to put earrings or necklaces up – and their features, the two page boy looking artworks are said to be staring mystically outwards.

Greatly preserved, just like the wooden supports they lay on, the two candle holders are meant to convey such a tenderness to all of us. 

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