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Andrea Previtali, The Virgin and Child with a Supplicant

Key facts
Full title The Virgin and Child with a Tonsured Supplicant and Saint Catherine
Artist Andrea Previtali
Artist dates about 1480 - 1528
Date made about 1505-6
Medium and support Oil on wood
Dimensions 53.3 × 69.2 cm
Acquisition credit Bought, 1862
Inventory number NG695
Location Not on display
Collection Main Collection
The Virgin and Child with a Supplicant
Andrea Previtali

An unidentified Franciscan friar kneels in veneration before the Virgin and Child. The Virgin looks down at him and touches the top of his head. Christ, sitting on her knee, holds a flower and raises his right hand in blessing.

Saint Catherine, holding the wheel on which she was tortured and the palm that shows she is a martyr, stands watching in the middle distance near a huge ruined classical building, which symbolises the triumph of Christianity over the paganism of the classical world. Christ’s flower seems to have been picked from the plant growing over the ruins. On the left, the stumps of felled trees send up new shoots, referring to the life-giving force of Christ and his triumph over death.

This painting is similar to another by Previtali now in Wadsworth Atheneum (Hartford, Connecticut). The Hartford painting is probably the earlier of the two versions.

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