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The Madonna of the Basket
Correggio
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The Virgin Mary sits under a tree in a simple gown of faded rose, her work basket with its iron shears and ball of grey wool at her side. She is trying a grey jacket she has just made on the Christ Child, which may be the seamless coat that legend claims grew with him and for which the soldiers cast lots at the foot of the cross (John 19: 23–4).The wriggly child stretches his arms out in a manner that may be meant to foreshadow the Crucifixion, his right hand in a blessing gesture. The atmosphere is suffused with tenderness.

Joseph is in the background, at work in his trade as a carpenter. The holy family’s simple home has been built alongside grandiose ruins – a symbol of the new faith rising out of the wreckage of pagan antiquity. The picture is a soft harmony of grey-pinks and grey-blues with the gentle, smoky quality for which Correggio is famous.

Key facts
Artist Correggio
Artist dates active 1494; died 1534
Full title The Madonna of the Basket
Date made about 1524
Medium and support Oil on wood
Dimensions 33.7 x 25.1 cm
Acquisition credit Bought from C. J. Nieuwenhuys collection, 1825
Inventory number NG23
Location in Gallery Room 8
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