A monumental Virgin Mary sits on a stone pedestal. The Christ Child, a solid toddler, is perched on her raised knee, his left hand resting tenderly in the curve of her left thumb and forefinger. He clutches at his mother’s veil; she cups the fingers of her right hand around his naked leg to support him. Mary looks down sadly to one side, as if contemplating the destiny of her son.
This painting is a copy of a lost work by Giovanni Bellini, perhaps painted for the Chiesa degli Scalzi in Venice. It is signed and dated in Latin by the Cremonese painter Francesco Tacconi.
This painting is a faithful copy of a lost work by Giovanni Bellini, known through a number of copies and variants, perhaps painted for the Chiesa degli Scalzi in Venice. It is signed and dated in Latin by the Cremonese painter Francesco Tacconi. Like all Renaissance artists, Bellini and his workshop produced large numbers of paintings of the Virgin and Child, from small-scale works for private devotion to larger, full-length figures intended for high altars and private chapels in churches. Bellini displayed great ingenuity in varying a traditional format.
It was widely believed that the first painting of the Virgin was made by Saint Luke, to whom Mary and Christ appeared in a vision. Artists were therefore limited in the level of innovation possible, and patrons were doubtless attracted by the accessibility of Bellini’s essentially traditional representations, combined with their great technical skill.
The green cloth of honour behind Mary also appears in Bellini’s Virgin and Child (probably 1480–90), which is a truncated version of the full-length image.
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