Rijksmuseum Acquires a Terracotta Sculpture by the Italian Master Tommaso Porlezza della Porta

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AMSTERDAM.- The Rijksmuseum has acquired a terracotta sculpture by the Italian master Tommaso Porlezza della Porta. The 22.5 cm sculpture depicts the Old Testament prophet Balaam and was produced sometime between 1575 and 1578. One of the most beautiful 16th-century Italian terracotta sculptures still remaining, it was the model for a sculpture in Loreto, one of Italy’s major pilgrimage sites that is visited by millions of pilgrims each year. This small terracotta sculpture was the scale model for a life-sized marble sculpture that was created for the Santa Casa in Loreto. This ‘sacred house’ is a shrine that was built in the 16th century around the remains of what had been considered Mary’s birthplace since the Middle Ages. Tradition has it that the house was miraculously brought from Nazareth (in Palestine) to Loreto (central Italy) by angels. Loreto was the major papal construction and sculpture p