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Alvise Vivarini, The Virgin and Child

Key facts
Full title The Virgin and Child
Artist Alvise Vivarini
Artist dates living 1457; died 1503/5
Date made about 1483
Medium and support Oil on wood
Dimensions 69.2 × 53.3 cm
Inscription summary Signed
Acquisition credit Presented by Charles Loeser of Florence, 1898
Inventory number NG1872
Location Not on display
Collection Main Collection
The Virgin and Child
Alvise Vivarini

The Virgin supports the Christ Child on a cushion that rests on a stone ledge. He returns her affectionate gaze, pointing to his breast. The Virgin’s thick mantle, turned over at the edge to reveal its rich yellow lining, dominates the picture. This striking feature is a good example of Vivarini’s shift in the 1480s towards using stronger shapes in his paintings, formed by bold contrasts of light and shade – a testament to the influence of the work of Antonello da Messina, who was present in Venice from 1475.

The setting reflects the impact of the devotional paintings made for domestic interiors by Giovanni Bellini, whose work had a strong impact on Vivarini. The dark green background behind the Virgin to the right of the picture reflects the (often green) hangings which Bellini used to separate his holy figures from the landscape beyond.

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