Putti Sculptures from three periods:Hellenistic, (late) Renaissance, and Neoclassicism

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Introduction

The Italian word “putto” is derived from the Latin word “putus”, meaning “boy” or “child”.

In this post I present sculptures with children from three periods: Hellenistic, Renaissance, and Neoclassicism.

Cupid is not included in the genre of “putti”, being a rather special child. So there will be no cupid here. Along the same line of sticking to the “ordinary”, I will not include “winged” chldren, or deities of any time.

Finally, I will not include any sculptures of the Holy Child with or without the Holy Mother.

Children (ordinary, I emphasize this) were depicted in sculpture in the Hellenistic period, and became again the subject of a sculpture in the Renaissance. The neoclassicism of the 18th century also depicted children in sculptures.

I have taken all the photos in this post.

Hellenistic Period

This sculpture of a boy with a goose, was originally created by the famous sculptor Boethus of Chalcedon, near Constantinople, in the second century B.C. The Roman Emperor Nero transported the original to his palace in Rome, where he had it copies. What survives today in Munich’s Glyptothek is the Roman copy of the original.

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Roman copy of Hellenistic sculpture, Boy with Goose. Glyptothek, Munich.

There is an incredible energy and motion in this sculpture, but also the spirit of having fun and enjoying life. This is what our protagonist does here, even at the expense of the goose, which seems to be rather subordinated. In real life, I would be surprised if the boy could handle the goose like this for more than one second.

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Roman copy of Hellenistic sculpture, Boy with Goose. Glyptothek, Munich.

From this angle, the boy has taken an almost wrestling posture.

Roman copy of Hellenistic sculpture, Boy with Goose. Glyptothek, Munich.
Roman copy of Hellenistic sculpture, Boy with Goose. Glyptothek, Munich.
Roman copy of Hellenistic sculpture, Boy with Goose. Glyptothek, Munich.
Roman copy of Hellenistic sculpture, Boy with Goose. Glyptothek, Munich. – Detail
Roman copy of Hellenistic sculpture, Boy with Goose. Glyptothek, Munich. - Detail
Roman copy of Hellenistic sculpture, Boy with Goose. Glyptothek, Munich. – Detail

Late Renaissance

Giambologna was a Flemish sculptor who spent most of his productive years in Florence.

Two bronze Giambologna statues depicting a child fishing are at the Bargello Museum in Florence.

Giambologna: Child Fishing - Putto Pescatore, Bargello Museum, Florence
Giambologna: Child Fishing – Putto Pescatore, Bargello Museum, Florence

The boy is playing with the fish. He is holding the remnant of a fishing rod and is having a good time. Playful and carefree.

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Giambologna: Child Fishing – Putto Pescatore, Bargello Museum, Florence

In the second sculpture, we see the fishing boy in a different posture, something like a declaration to the world “I caught a fish!”. Simple and beautiful.

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Giambologna: Child Fishing – Putto Pescatore, Bargello Museum, Florence. – Detail
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Giambologna: Child Fishing – Putto Pescatore, Bargello Museum, Florence. – Detail

Neoclassicism

The period is represented in this post by Lorenzo Bartolini and his student Luigi Pampaloni.

Basrtolini was an Italian sculptor of the late 18th – early 19th century. I saw an exhibition of their works in Academia Gallery in Florence, the Bartolini’s birth place.

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Lorenzo Bartolini: Child with Swan

I somehow feel that this boy with the swan comes nowhere near the boy with the goose. It is an ok sculpture, but it is flat, and almost superficial.

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Luigi Pampaloni Praying Putto (the Orphan) (after 1826)

Pampaloni’s orphan is also an ok sculpture, but it does not move me. Technically it is fine, but the sculpture has no soul.

Which reminds me, that in art as in society, we need the great and the bad and the average, otherwise, this would have been a very strange world!