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Filippino Lippi, The Virgin and Child with Saints Jerome and Dominic

Key facts
Full title The Virgin and Child with Saints Jerome and Dominic
Artist Filippino Lippi
Artist dates about 1457 - 1504
Date made about 1485
Medium and support Oil and tempera on poplar
Dimensions 203.2 × 186.1 cm, 239 kg
Acquisition credit Bought, 1857
Inventory number NG293
Location Room 11
Collection Main Collection
The Virgin and Child with Saints Jerome and Dominic
Filippino Lippi

The Virgin Mary is seated at the centre of this painting, in the middle of a landscape. She is breastfeeding the infant Christ; a little bird (a coal tit) perched in the large tree behind her also feeds its young. Saint Jerome, kneeling before the Virgin, looks on in devotion. He clutches the stone that he is said to have pounded against his chest to help him resist temptation. Saint Dominic kneels opposite, absorbed in the book he is reading. The white lily, his traditional attribute, alludes to the Virgin’s purity.

This altarpiece by Filippino Lippi originally stood on an altar in a chapel belonging to a member of the powerful Rucellai family in the important medieval church of S. Pancrazio in Florence. The elaborate frame is a nineteenth-century reproduction of what may have been the original one. It includes a horizontal panel at the bottom that depicts the dead Christ flanked by Saints Francis and Mary Magdalene between the Rucellai coats of arms.

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