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Bernardino Lanino, The Madonna and Child with Saints

Key facts
Full title The Madonna and Child with Saint Mary Magdalene, Saint Gregory, Saint Joseph (?) and Saint Paul
Artist Bernardino Lanino
Artist dates about 1512; died 1583
Date made 1543
Medium and support Oil on wood
Dimensions 205.7 × 133.4 cm
Inscription summary Signed; Dated and inscribed
Acquisition credit Bought, 1863
Inventory number NG700
Location Not on display
Collection Main Collection
The Madonna and Child with Saints
Bernardino Lanino

This altarpiece was commissioned by Francesco de Strata for the high altar of his chapel in the church of S. Paolo in Vercelli. The altar was dedicated to Saint Mary Magdalene, who appears twice in the painting. She stands in the place of honour on the right-hand side of the Virgin and Child, holding the jar of perfumed ointment she used to anoint Christ’s feet. The infant Christ touches an apple held by Saint Paul and seems to smile at Mary Magdalene. The apple symbolises Christ’s identity as the second Adam who has come to redeem mankind from sin.

The elderly man may be the Virgin’s husband Saint Joseph, while Saint Gregory is dressed as a bishop. In the middle distance, Christ appears to Mary Magdalene as a gardener on the morning after his Resurrection. The altarpiece originally had a lower section depicting six events from the life and conversion of Saint Mary Magdalene, but its current whereabouts is unknown.

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