Portrait roundel of a classical male figure
studio of Giovanni da Maiano (c.1486–c.1542)
Art / Sculpture
c. 1520 - c. 1521
890 mm (Diameter)
Place of origin
EnglandOrder this image
Vyne Estate, Hampshire (Accredited Museum)
This striking terracotta roundel appears to have been produced in England by an Italian Renaissance artist working in the reign of Henry VIII (1491–1547). At first sight, the evident technical skill and dramatic stylisation would have amazed and impressed English audiences. The roundel may have been commissioned or acquired by Henry VIII’s Lord Chamberlain and trusted adviser, William Sandys, 1st Baron Sandys (c.1470– 1540) for his Tudor mansion known as The Vyne. It was probably produced by the studio of the Tuscan artist Giovanni da Maiano (c.1486–c.1542), who came to work in England around 1521. Along with Baron Sandys, he had a role in preparations for the production of celebratory buildings that were erected for the meeting between the French king François I and Henry VIII, known as the ‘Field of the Cloth of Gold’, in 1520. The bearded figure was once thought to be the Roman Emperor Probus (d.AD282), who may have introduced grapevines to Britain. However, the figure does not resemble known representations of Probus and is more likely to depict another Roman worthy. Giovanni da Maiano was also commissioned by Cardinal Wolsey to produce eight medallions of Roman heroes of a similar design for Hampton Court.
Terracotta, portrait roundel of a classical male figure, studio of Giovanni da Maiano (c.1486–c.1542), c. 1520-21. A terracotta roundel containing a bust in high relief of a classical male figure, previously catalogued as the Emperor Probus. The figure wears a laurel wreath, embroidered drapery and a richly modelled cuirass with bucranium, cornucopia, and foliate mascaron. The concave roundel with ribbon enrichment behind the figure's head. The bust framed with a circular convex frame, with egg and dart moulding, a central band of richly moulded relief ornament punctuated at quarterly intervals with rosettes, and terminating in a band of moulded broad acanthus. The relief ornament comprised of central reeding wrapped with ribbon and ancient Roman military armour, including a helmet, a cuirass, crossed greaves (leg armour) and manica (arm guards). A piece of the ornamented frame is broken off below the figure's proper left shoulder. The roundel is believed to have been commissioned or acquired by Henry VIII’s Lord Chamberlain and adviser, William Sandys, 1st Baron Sandys (1470-1540) for his Tudor mansion, The Vyne. It was probably produced by the studio of the Tuscan artist Giovanni da Maiano, who came to work in England around 1521. Maiano had worked on decorative schemes for The Field of the Cloth of Gold (1520), a royal summit between Henry VIII of England and Francois I of France which was co-organised by Sandys. Maiano was also commissioned by Cardinal Wolsey to produce eight terracotta medallions of Roman heroes of a similar design for Hampton Court in 1521. The subject of the Vyne roundel was once thought to be the Roman Emperor Probus, who is celebrated for introducing grape vines into Britain. However, the figure does not resemble known representations of Probus and is more likely to depict another Roman worthy. See also glazed roundel with allegorical figure (Royal Collection Trust RCIN 1999).
Bequeathed with The Vyne, estate and contents by Sir Charles Chute, 1st Bt (1879-1956).
Makers and roles
studio of Giovanni da Maiano (c.1486–c.1542), sculptor
Gunn and Lindley 1991: S. J. Gunn and P. G. Lindley, Cardinal Wolsey, Church, State and Art, Cambridge 1991, P. Lindley, 'Playing check-mate with royal majesty? Wolsey's patronage of Italian Renaissance sculpture', pp. 261-85. Thurley 2003: Simon Thurley, Hampton Court: A Social and Architectural History, New Haven and London 2003 K. Hallett, K. Rawlinson, Z.. Roberts, The conservation of Giovanni da Maiano’s terracotta roundels at Hampton Court Palace (2005-12): A summary report, TECHNE, 36: Terres cuites de la Renaissance - Matière et couleur, Paris 2012, pp. 102-9. Rawlinson 2017: Kent Rawlinson, ‘Giovanni da Maiano: on the English career of a Florentine sculptor (c. 1520–42)’, Sculpture Journal, 26 (2017), 37-51.