The Madonna and Child with Saints

The Christ Child removes a garland of flowers from his head and grasps the reed cross from the infant Saint John the Baptist who wears his camel skin cloak and carries a baptismal bowl.

The elderly female saint looking down fondly at the Baptist is his mother Saint Elizabeth. The reed cross foreshadows Christ's Passion, while the wild strawberries offered to Christ by Saint John may be interpreted as referring to the fruitful and righteous life of Christ. 

The picture was painted around 1540, perhaps for an aquaintance of Bronzino's at the court of Cosimo De' Medici in Florence. It is close in style to the frescoes Bronzino painted in the Chapel of Eleonora of Toledo in the Palazzo Vecchio in around 1541–2.

Key facts

Artist dates
1503 - 1572
Full title
The Madonna and Child with Saint John the Baptist and Saint Elizabeth
Date made
probably about 1540
Medium and support
Oil on wood
101.6 x 81.3 cm
Inscription summary
Acquisition credit
Bequeathed by Sir Lionel Faudel-Phillips, 1941
Inventory number
Location in Gallery