These elegant and gracefully carved figures, illustrate some of the most sophisticated and sensitive aspects of Venetian sculpture in the High Renaissance and are clearly closely connected to the figures of Tullio Lombardo. Giovanni Buora, the Venetian architect and sculptor, worked on many high-profile projects in the late 15th and early 16th century. Some of his buildings included the church of San Zaccaria, the Scuolo Grande di San Marco -- where Buora collaborated with Pietro Lombardo on the main facade starting in 1487 -- and San Giorgio Maggiore -- where he started the Cloister of the Bay Trees which was finished by his son Andrea in 1540 -- and the Palazzo Contarini Polignac.
There is a nearly identical pair of angels in the Flint Institute of Arts, Michigan (205.146.1-2). And while they are attributed to Pietro Lombardi, the carved details are extremely similar in nearly every respect. They share the same hairstyle as the Columbus angels -- with the tight curls along the forehead and falling to the sides -- as well as the same diaphanous gowns which expose one knee. The main difference is that the Flint angels have one arm each outstretched and hold a support for a candle -- but these are almost certainly a later 'robber baron' embellishment.
The Columbus angels will be included in the forthcoming article by Anne Markham Schultz, titled 'One old and nine new attributions to Giovanni Buora', Revista d'Arte (new series 1), 2011.