July 2, 2008 / 1:04 AM / 9 years ago

15th century sculpture broken in NY Met museum

<p>A late 15th-century glazed terracotta relief sculpture of Saint Michael the Archangel by Andrea della Robbia (1435-1525), is shown in this handout photo.The Metropolitan Museum of Art/Handout</p>

NEW YORK (Reuters) - A 15th century terracotta sculpture by Italian Renaissance artist Andrea della Robbia fell to the ground inside New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art and broke into pieces, the museum said on Tuesday.

The piece came loose from metal mounts attached to a wall in the European Paintings and Decorative Arts Galleries section. It fell either Monday night or early Tuesday, the museum said in a statement.

The sculpture of Saint Michael the Archangel shows him dressed in armor and holding a sword and scales of justice and had been hanging at the museum since 1996, the museum said.

The piece, which was 62 inches wide and 32 inches high, had its wings broken cleanly off but its face was not damaged as it had been encased in a wooden frame, said museum spokesman Harold Holzer.

Curators and conservators were assessing the damage, he said. The museum would not say how much the piece was worth.

The piece was commissioned around 1475 for the church of San Michele Arcangelo in Faenza, a small town in Italy. After passing through private collectors it was sold to the museum in 1960.

Reporting by Christine Kearney, editing by Michelle Nichols and Cynthia Osterman

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