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Ambrogio Bergognone, The Virgin and Child with Saints

Key facts
Full title The Virgin and Child with Saint Catherine of Alexandria and Saint Catherine of Siena
Artist Ambrogio Bergognone
Artist dates active 1481; died 1523?
Date made about 1490
Medium and support Oil on poplar
Dimensions 187.5 × 129.5 cm
Acquisition credit Bought, 1857
Inventory number NG298
Location Gallery B
Collection Main Collection
The Virgin and Child with Saints
Ambrogio Bergognone

We are clearly looking into heaven in this large painting. The Virgin Mary sits on a carved and gilded throne, the Christ Child standing on her lap. They are flanked by Saints Catherine of Alexandria, dressed as a princess, and Catherine of Siena in the habit of a Dominican nun. The figures are linked by their hands: the Virgin holds Catherine of Siena’s hand, while Christ places a ring on Catherine of Alexandria’s finger (the saint had a vision of herself as a ‘bride of Christ’ and, because of this, refused to marry the Roman emperor).

This painting was one of ten Bergognone made for the Certosa (Charterhouse) of Pavia in the late 1480s and 1490s. It presumably hung in the fifth chapel off the left aisle of the nave, which is dedicated to the two Saints Catherine.

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