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Figures to debut at Leonardo show

September 17, 2009|Suzanne Muchnic

"Leonardo da Vinci: Hand of the Genius," an exhibition opening in October at Atlanta's High Museum of Art and in March at L.A.'s J. Paul Getty Museum, will unveil two tiny sculptures long thought to have been the work of the Italian Renaissance master's teacher, Andrea del Verrocchio.

The figures, each about 8 inches tall, are part of "Beheading of the Baptist," a late 15th century relief depicting scenes from the life of St. John the Baptist, made for a silver altar in Florence, Italy. Verrocchio, who designed the relief, has been credited with sculpting all the figures in the artwork. But they were created individually and inserted into the background, presenting scholars with the possibility that more than one artist was involved.

After a recent cleaning of the altar, Gary Radke, a professor at Syracuse University and guest curator of the exhibition, examined the work closely and noticed that figures of a youth and an officer were modeled in greater depth and naturalistic detail than the others. Radke compared many other works made by the two artists and eventually concluded that the figures in question were created by Leonardo.

-- Suzanne Muchnic

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