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Francesco Bissolo, The Virgin and Child and Saints

Key facts
Full title The Virgin and Child with Saint Paul and a Female Martyr
Artist Francesco Bissolo
Artist dates active 1492; died 1554
Date made probably 1505-30
Medium and support Oil on wood
Dimensions 78.1 × 117.5 cm
Acquisition credit Mond Bequest, 1924
Inventory number NG3915
Location Not on display
Collection Main Collection
The Virgin and Child and Saints
Francesco Bissolo

The Virgin Mary and Christ Child are seated outdoors with a simple cloth of honour hanging behind them to resemble a throne. Saint Paul, identified by the book and sword he holds, stands in the position of greatest honour on the Virgin and Christ’s right-hand side. A female saint stands on their left. She is holding a palm frond, which indicates that she is a martyr, but she lacks any other attribute to identify her.

Bissolo is described as a pupil of Giovanni Bellini and seems to have been a frequent collaborator, specifically employed to add donor portraits to Bellini’s Madonnas. He copied the group of the Virgin and Child in this painting from Bellini’s altarpiece of 1505 in San Zaccaria, Venice; he also repeated it in other pictures.

There is a horizontal crack running the whole width of the panel at the level of the Virgin’s lips, and there are patches of damage to the painted flesh.

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