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Cosimo Tura, The Virgin and Child Enthroned

Key facts
Full title The Virgin and Child Enthroned
Artist Cosimo Tura
Artist dates before 1431 - 1495
Date made mid-1470s
Medium and support Oil and egg on poplar
Dimensions 239 × 101.6 cm
Inscription summary Inscribed
Acquisition credit Bought, 1867
Inventory number NG772
Location Not on display
Collection Main Collection
Previous owners
The Virgin and Child Enthroned
Cosimo Tura

The Virgin Mary sits on a high marble throne with a curved back, the naked Christ Child asleep in her lap. An eagle crowns the throne. It – like the winged lion, bull and reading man – symbolises one of the authors of the Gospels. The Old Testament is evoked by the stone tablets to either side of the Virgin, carved with the Ten Commandments in Hebrew text.

This is the central panel of an enormous altarpiece made for the church of San Giorgio in Ferrara. It was commissioned by the Roverella family to commemorate Lorenzo Roverella, who had been Bishop of Ferrara from 1460 until his death in 1474. Our panel was flanked by two side panels and crowned with a lunette (a semi-circular panel) which shows the lamentation of Christ’s dead body (Louvre, Paris) – a stark contrast to the lively and colourful central image. A row of smaller images would have run along the bottom edge.

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