Can you imagine how it would feel to arrive at work one sunny summer morning to find a prized 15thC work of art – an Andrea della Robbia glazed terracotta relief sculpture – lying in pieces on the floor?
"Heartsick" I think would be the word for it.
Sadly, that happened this morning at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.
Apparently, the metal mounts that held 62-x-32-inch relief on the wall over a doorway gave out sometime during the night. The wood-framed lunette, Saint Michael the Archangel, fell to the stone floor below, crashing into pieces.
Della Robbia’s blue-and-white lunette of Saint Michael, dressed in armor and holding a sword and the scales of justice, was commissioned c. 1475 for the church of San Michele Arcangelo in Faenza, a small town between Bologna and Ravenna. The church was dismantled around 1798, and the Saint Michael ended up in private hands. It was acquired at auction by the Metropolitan Museum in 1960.
Curators and conservators were at work this morning assessing the situation. Their preliminary inspection indicates that the relief was not irreparably damaged, that it can be repaired and again put on display. The European Paintings and Decorative Arts Galleries will be temporarily closed, until the sculpture is transferred to the conservation area of the Museum for a full assessment of the damage.