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Garofalo, 'The Virgin and Child enthroned with Saints', 1517

Key facts
Full title The Virgin and Child enthroned with Saints
Artist Garofalo
Artist dates about 1481 - 1559
Date made 1517
Medium and support Oil on poplar
Dimensions 198.1 × 208.3 cm
Acquisition credit Bought, 1860
Inventory number NG671
Location Not on display
Collection Main Collection
The Virgin and Child enthroned with Saints

This painting served as the high altarpiece of the Franciscan church of S. Guglielmo in Ferrara. It was commissioned by the sisters of the convent, who were followers of Saint Clare of Assisi. Known as Poor Clares, they were the female branch of the Franciscan Order.

The infant Christ sits on his mother’s lap on a raised throne, surrounded by saints associated with the Franciscan Order. Saint Clare is the nun standing to the Virgin’s right.The warrior saint in the foreground in the position of greatest honour is Saint William of Aquitaine (Guglielmo in Italian). Saint Francis stands on the Virgin’s left. Behind him is Saint Anthony of Padua, who was one of the first Franciscan saints.

The twisting movement of Christ in the Virgin’s lap reflects his pose in Raphael’s Madonna del Foligno (Vatican Museums, Rome) painted in about 1511. Garofalo had probably studied Raphael’s paintings when he was in Rome in 1512.

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