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Follower of Pontormo, The Madonna and Child with the Infant Baptist

Key facts
Full title The Madonna and Child with the Infant Baptist
Artist Follower of Pontormo
Artist dates 1494 - 1556/7
Date made probably 1560s
Medium and support Oil on wood
Dimensions 81.3 × 58.4 cm
Acquisition credit Bought, 1966
Inventory number NG6375
Location Room 9
Collection Main Collection
The Madonna and Child with the Infant Baptist
Follower of Pontormo

The Christ Child sits on his mother’s lap holding her hand and smiling at us. His cousin, the young Saint John the Baptist, stands grinning behind the Virgin. The happy, exuberant expressions of the children contrast with the pensive mood of the Virgin. Christ’s right hand is raised in an implied gesture of blessing.

There is another version of this composition, virtually identical in size, in the Art Institute of Chicago. Technical evidence from X-ray images suggests that both paintings were made in the same workshop by the same artist from the same full-scale preparatory drawing at probably the same time. The figures have a similar appearance to those in works by Pontormo, with oval faces, deep-set round dark eyes and curly red hair. However, it is unlikely that Pontormo himself painted these panels; they were probably produced by an artist in his workshop or a follower of his style.

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