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The Virgin and Child
Italian, Florentine
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The Christ Child sits on the lap of his mother, the Virgin Mary, and looks directly at us. He holds a little bird in his left hand. In many religious paintings Christ is shown with a goldfinch, a symbol of the Passion (Christ’s torture and crucifixion). The bird here is missing the typical red plumage around the beak, but it may still symbolise the Passion – this would explain the sorrowful gaze with which the Virgin looks at her son.

While the Virgin wears several layers of veils and garments, Christ is wrapped in a simple white cloth, leaving most of his body exposed. The wall that could provide protection is crumbling, giving way to a distant landscape.

The meticulous attention to detail in the depiction of the wall recalls the work of Fra Diamante, one of the most gifted pupils of the Florentine painter Fra Filippo Lippi.

Key facts
Artist Italian, Florentine
Full title The Virgin and Child
Date made probably about 1450-75
Medium and support Tempera on wood
Dimensions 49.5 x 33.5 cm
Acquisition credit Bequeathed by Lord Carmichael; entered the Collection, 1956
Inventory number NG6266
Location in Gallery Gallery A: Paintings 1250-1600
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