NEW YORK, NY.- The Metropolitan Museum of Art is saddened to report that late last night or early this morning, a late 15th-century glazed terracotta relief sculpture of Saint Michael the Archangel by Andrea della Robbia (1435-1525), came loose from metal mounts that have long held the framed lunette securely to the wall above a doorway in its European Paintings and Decorative Arts Galleries. The 62-x-32-inch relief, which has been on view in its current location since 1996, fell to a stone floor and suffered some damage. Preliminary inspection indicates that the relief has not been irrevocably harmed and that it can be repaired and again presented to the public.
Museum curators and conservators are at work this morning fully assessing the situation, trying to determine the cause of this accident, and considering next steps. The sculpture is expected to be transferred soon to a conservation area within the building for a full assessment, at which time the gallery will be reopened to the public. While the Metropolitan routinely and thoroughly inspects its pedestals and wall mounts to reconfirm their structural integrity, it will initiate a reinvigorated museum-wide examination as expeditiously as possible in the days that follow this unfortunate accident.
The blue-and-white della Robia lunette of Saint Michael, dressed in armor and holding a sword and the scales of justice, was commissioned ca. 1475 for the church of San Michele Arcangelo in Faenza, a small town between Bologna and Ravenna. The church was dismantled around 1798. Later owned by private collectors, the Saint Michael was acquired by the Metropolitan Museum in 1960 at the auction sale of the Myron C. Taylor Collection.