A Fine Early 18thC Polychrome Painted Cherub Head Mask

Origin: Italian or German
Period: Early Eighteenth Century
Provenance: Unknown
Date: c.1700-20
Height: 10.25 inches
Width: 6 inches
Depth: 2.75 inches (all at maximum)

The beautifully carved and polychrome painted soft wood wall mask formed as a cherub or young maiden having a pierced gilt painted scrolling top above a protruding female head bordered with gilt scrolls above further scrollwork surviving from early eighteenth century Europe.

There is paint loss, some chipping and losses, some splitting, a small amount of old woodworm and an old repair to her top. She is displaying a beautiful patination. Verso there is a later suspension hook and staple but all of the above are to be expected and are commensurate with the carvings age.

The subjects face is plump, soft and well rounded, showing rose tinted cheeks and ruby red lips, the whites to the eyes wonderfully well rendered, the curls of hair cascading; her expression though is hard to pin down to an exacting emotion, which makes her more alluring, though it is certainly benevolent, she appears thoughtful, content, yet otherworldly, as though she is recalling a pleasant memory.

With the rediscovery of Greek and Roman art in the High Renaissance, so too came the rediscovery of putti, and the immediate confusion with cherubs. Cherubs have a completely different origin, they are angels, described in the Bible as the spiritual beings closest to God. Medieval and early Renaissance art had frequently portrayed angels in and around biblical scenes.