Skip to main content

Benvenuto di Giovanni, The Virgin and Child

Key facts
Full title The Virgin and Child
Artist Benvenuto di Giovanni
Artist dates 1436 - after 1509/17
Date made about 1474-5
Medium and support Tempera on wood
Dimensions 52.1 × 34.3 cm
Acquisition credit Salting Bequest, 1910
Inventory number NG2482
Location Not on display
Collection Main Collection
Previous owners
The Virgin and Child
Benvenuto di Giovanni

This graceful Virgin Mary seems to embody both motherly love and maternal sorrow. Her beautiful hands hold the Christ Child almost tentatively, as if to prevent him floating away. She gazes sadly at her son, and he too looks out with wary, hooded eyes, as if aware of his future.

Mary’s halo is inscribed with Latin words that mean ‘Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with you’ – the angel Gabriel’s greeting at the Annunciation (Luke 1: 28). The child seems weightless, just one foot resting on a gilded cushion. Delicate gold rays emanate from his head but he clasps his mother’s hand with tiny fingers and embraces her with human affection.

Benvenuto has replaced the traditional gold background with a flowery landscape, but he was also more interested in an ideal of feminine beauty than in anatomical accuracy. He has kept the flowing contours of earlier Sienese painting: the unbroken curve of the Virgin’s cloak around her head is derived from Sano di Pietro (1405–1481) and his predecessors.

Download image
Download low-resolution image

Download a low-resolution copy of this image for personal use.

License this image

License and download a high-resolution image for reproductions up to A3 size from the National Gallery Picture Library.

License image
Download low-resolution image

This image is licensed for non-commercial use under a Creative Commons agreement.

Examples of non-commercial use are:

  • Research, private study, or for internal circulation within an educational organisation (such as a school, college or university)
  • Non-profit publications, personal websites, blogs, and social media

The image file is 800 pixels on the longest side.

As a charity, we depend upon the generosity of individuals to ensure the collection continues to engage and inspire. Help keep us free by making a donation today.

Download low-resolution image

You must agree to the Creative Commons terms and conditions to download this image.

Creative Commons Logo