Description While the subject of this unique plaque is acrobats, its larger theme is the physical and mental agility that underlies the goal of virtuosity so important to artists and patrons of this period. Acrobatics permit the display of masculine agility and strength for their own sake, without an underlying narrative. The contrast with the contained rhythms of the "Plaque with the Three Graces" (Walters 44.219) is striking. The use of "grisaille" accentuates the abstract aspects of the design at the expense of realism. The artist's point of departure may be a design by Juste de Juste (also known as Guisti Betti, 1505-59), a Florentine sculptor who was employed at the Palace of Fontainebleau. The manipulation of anatomy for aesthetic effect is characteristic of the mannerist style that flourished there.
- Special Exhibition of the Works of Art of the Mediaeval, Renaissance, and More Recent Periods. South Kensington Museum, London. 1862.
- World of Wonder. The Walters Art Gallery, Baltimore. 1971-1972.
- A Renaissance Puzzle: Heemskerck's Abduction of Helen. The Walters Art Gallery, Baltimore. 1993.
Provenance Cambry [date and mode of acquisition unknown]; Henry T. Hope [date and mode of acquisition unknown]; Henry Pelham-Clinton, seventh Duke of Newcastle [date and mode of acquisition unknown]; Sale, London, July 7, 1921, lot 117; F. Leverton Harris of Camilla Lacey, Surrey [date and mode of acquisition unknown]; Sale, London, July 7, 1928, lot 38; Arnold Seligmann, Rey & Co., New York [date and mode of acquisition unknown]; Henry Walters, Baltimore, 1928, by purchase; Walters Art Museum, 1931, by bequest.
Credit Acquired by Henry Walters, 1928
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