Massimiliano Soldani-Benzi was the most gifted sculptor of the late Florentine baroque. His bronzes - which are technically among the most accomplished bronzes ever produced - follow in the tradition first established by the Medici court sculptor Giambologna; the glistening reddish-gold surface evident on the present bronze is a direct descendant of the work of Antonio Susini, Giambologna's celebrated founder, 100 years earlier.
Among Soldani's most important patrons was Johann Adam Andreas, Prinz von Liechtenstein, and there exists extensive correspondence between the two men from 1694 to 1709 relating to the Prince's commissioning and purchasing of bronzes from Soldani (for transcripts of this correspondence see Lankheit, loc. cit.). As early as 1694/5, Soldani suggested producing putti in the style of Algardi or Fiammingo (François Duquesnoy), but it was not until 1707 that Soldani again wrote to say: 'Mi trove le forme fatte sopra alcuni Putti originali del fiammingo, e dell'Algardi, d'altezza di due palmi l'uno, chi siede, chi vola e chi in atto di tirare l'arco ('I have made models of some putti by Fiammingo and Algardi, which are two palmi [about 45cm] high. One is seated, one is flying, and the third is drawing his bow.', Lankheit, op. cit., p. 337).
Although the Prince's response to this letter does not seem to have survived, Alistair Laing surmises in his article on the subject (Laing, op. cit.) that Soldani must have convinced the Prince to order two of the three models mentioned above, and that they correspond to two bronzes listed in a 1767 inventory of the Liechtenstein collection. In that inventory, drawn up by the collection's Keeper, Vincenzo Fanti, numbers 86 and 87 are briefly described as 'Due fanciulli di bronzo, alti piedi I e once g' ('Two children in bronze, one foot nine inches high', see Laing, op. cit., p. 161). On this basis, the inscription on the reverse of the present bronze therefore represents the Liechtenstein inventory number. Although the Liechtenstein collection still boasts an incredible number of the Soldani bronzes bought by Johann Adam Andreas, the 'due fanciulli' had been sold or given away by the time of Tietze-Conrat's survey of the collection in 1917 (op. cit.).