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Bernardino Licinio, 'The Madonna and Child with Saints', about 1510-30

Key facts
Full title The Madonna and Child with Saint Joseph and a Female Martyr
Artist Bernardino Licinio
Artist dates before 1491? - after 1549
Date made about 1510-30
Medium and support Oil on wood
Dimensions 48.6 × 68.6 cm
Acquisition credit Layard Bequest, 1916
Inventory number NG3075
Location Not on display
Collection Main Collection
Previous owners
The Madonna and Child with Saints
Bernardino Licinio

The Virgin sits outdoors on a stone parapet, holding the naked Christ Child on her knee. Saint Joseph looks down thoughtfully at the baby’s tiny foot in his hand. The infant Christ clings on to Joseph’s staff and turns to regard us over his shoulder, apparently raising his hand to bless Joseph. We do not know the identity of the female saint who holds a martyr’s palm and red banner.

Horizontal format paintings of the holy family and saints in a landscape are particularly associated with early sixteenth-century Venice, where they were developed and popularised by Giovanni Bellini and his followers. Although from Bergamo, Bernardino Licinio worked mainly in Venice and the surrounding islands. There are several other surviving paintings of this type by him, including one in the Uffizi, Florence.

Narrow strips of wood have been added later to the top and bottom of the panel. The varnish has darkened and the painting is in need of repair.

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