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Gentile Bellini, The Virgin and Child Enthroned

Key facts
Full title The Virgin and Child Enthroned
Artist Gentile Bellini
Artist dates active about 1460; died 1507
Date made about 1475-85
Medium and support Oil on wood
Dimensions 121.9 × 82.6 cm
Inscription summary Signed; Inscribed
Acquisition credit Mond Bequest, 1924
Inventory number NG3911
Location Not on display
Collection Main Collection
Previous owners
The Virgin and Child Enthroned
Gentile Bellini

This is one of only two surviving images of the Virgin and Child by Gentile Bellini. Its large size suggests that it was probably the central panel of a large polyptych (multi-panelled altarpiece). It has been connected with the apparently now-lost altarpiece that we know Gentile made for the Scuola dei Merciai (the confraternity of the merchants) in Venice.

Gentile tailored the image to Venice and to his mercantile patrons, many of whom must have been involved in the city’s thriving trade in luxury textiles such as that worn here by the Virgin. The marble steps are covered with an oriental rug that resembles a prayer mat used by Muslims. Rugs like this date from around the mid-fifteenth century and were popular in Italy as exotic luxury items: one is recorded in the possessions of the Duke of Mantua in 1483.

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