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Domenico Ghirlandaio, The Virgin and Child

Key facts
Full title The Virgin and Child
Artist Domenico Ghirlandaio
Artist dates 1449 - 1494
Date made probably about 1480-90
Medium and support Tempera on poplar
Dimensions 88.9 × 57.8 cm
Acquisition credit Mond Bequest, 1924
Inventory number NG3937
Location Gallery D
Collection Main Collection
Previous owners
The Virgin and Child
Domenico Ghirlandaio

The Christ Child looks up at the Virgin Mary, raising the index finger of his right hand as though he is preaching, which refers to his divine authority. The Virgin’s cloak would have originally appeared more blue, but the pigment, azurite, has changed over time.

The bold colours of the striped textile hanging over the parapet draw our attention to the foreground, while the background with its hazy outlines appears as though it is far off in the distance. The picture, made for private worship at home, provided not only a focus for prayer but also a fictive window into a beautiful landscape.

Once thought to have been produced by Ghirlandaio’s workshop, after cleaning it became apparent that the methods used and the quality of the painting were so similar to pictures by Ghirlandaio dating from the 1480s that it must be a work of his own hands.

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