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Part of European Sculpture and Decorative Arts
Gian Lorenzo Bernini (Italian, Naples 1598–1680 Rome)
Date: ca. 1616–17Accession Number: 1976.92
Date: 1506–15Accession Number: 41.190.482
Giovanni Caccini (Italian, 1556–1613)
Date: 1583–84Accession Number: 67.208
Battista di Domenico Lorenzi (Italian, ca. 1527/28–1594)
Date: 1568–70Accession Number: 40.33
Pietro Bernini (Italian, 1562–1629)
Date: 1616–17Accession Number: 1990.53.1
possibly commissioned by the Colonna
Date: ca. 1571–90Accession Number: 2000.69
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Masks, vases, and birds eating berries are among the sensitively carved details adorning the windows and other architectural elements of this marble patio from the castle of Vélez Blanco in Andalusia, Spain. The decoration also features a rich array of fantastic creatures, including sphinxes, dragons, and rams with serpent tails. These motifs were inspired by the ornamental vocabulary of ancient Rome as interpreted by Italian stonecutters working in Spain during the early sixteenth century. The coats of arms of the owners—members of the powerful Mendoza family—are carved between the patio's arches. Inner courtyards were an important feature of Spanish castles during this period, providing privacy as well as access to light and fresh air.
The owner of the castle sold the patio's marble fittings in 1904. George Blumenthal purchased them in 1913 and had them installed in his Park Avenue home. The nearly two thousand blocks of marble that form the structure were reassembled at the Museum in 1964. Monumental Italian sculptures from the sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries are displayed in the patio.
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