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Bonifazio di Pitati, The Madonna and Child with Saints

Key facts
Full title The Madonna and Child with Saints James the Greater, Jerome, the Infant Baptist and Catherine of Alexandria
Artist Bonifazio di Pitati
Artist dates 1487 - 1553
Date made about 1530
Medium and support Oil on wood
Dimensions 73 × 116.8 cm
Acquisition credit Bought, 1886
Inventory number NG1202
Location Not on display
Collection Main Collection
The Madonna and Child with Saints
Bonifazio di Pitati

The infant Christ is seated on the Virgin’s lap, accompanied by saints in the meadows of a mountainous landscape. The large semi-ruined classical building behind the Virgin and Christ divides the composition into three, making them appear enthroned in the centre.

Saint James sits reading on the near left. Saint Jerome looks up from his Bible to gaze at Christ, while the lion that normally accompanies him causes havoc in the background. Saint Catherine of Alexandria holds part of the spiked wheel on which she was tortured for her Christian faith and points at the infant John the Baptist, who kisses Christ’s foot. In one hand the Baptist holds a reed cross and in the other a scroll marked with letters from the phrase Ecce Agnus Dei (‘Behold the Lamb of God’).

The scroll and reed cross refer to Christ’s sacrifice for mankind. The Virgin turns to us as though unable to watch as her baby son reaches for the cross, about to grasp the destiny that awaits him.

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