Of all the materials used for sculpture, marble is the most classical and stately. In the Renaissance, Italian artists made both large outdoor statuary and small marble statues for interiors. In the Rijksmuseum’s collection of around 100 marble sculptures are beautiful Italian Renaissance works, such as Giovanni Caccini’s serene Christ. Marble sculptures remained popular during the 18th-century Rococo period, fine examples of which are Falconet’s seated cupid entitled L’Amour menaçant, or love threatens, and the impressive mantelpiece by Jan-Baptist Xavery’s. Characteristic of the 19th-century revival styles is Pietro Magni’s David.
Throughout time marble was often the material of choice for sculpted portraits. The collection contains many busts and medallions, including remarkable Italian Renaissance portrait reliefs and animated 17th-century Dutch Baroque portraits. This ancient tradition of immortalizing heads of state and culture extended into the 19th century as is attested to by the busts of the Dutch queen Wilhelmina and the architect of the Rijksmuseum P.J. Cuypers.