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The Virgin and Child with Saint John
Associate of Pietro Perugino
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The Virgin Mary gently supports the Christ Child as he plays with her hair. He casts a curious glance at his cousin, Saint John the Baptist, who is recognisable by the fine wooden cross tucked under his arm, a symbol of Christ’s crucifixion. The Virgin’s fair complexion and golden hair were considered ideals of female beauty in fifteenth-century Florence, where appearance and virtue were closely linked; as such, she is also meant to be seen as the height of virtue, and an example to all women.

This gentle image of maternal love was well-suited to worship in the home. Images like this were hugely popular, and Perugino and members of his workshop – who worked to his designs and in his style – would have produced numerous similar pictures to meet the demand. This one was probably painted by one of his close associates.

Key facts
Artist Associate of Pietro Perugino
Artist dates living 1469; died 1523
Full title The Virgin and Child with Saint John
Date made about 1480 - 1500
Medium and support Tempera on poplar
Dimensions 68.5 x 44.5 cm
Inscription summary Signed
Acquisition credit Bought, 1841
Inventory number NG181
Location in Gallery Not on display
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