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Italian, North, 'The Madonna and Child', probably 1525-35

Key facts
Full title The Madonna and Child
Artist Italian, North
Date made probably 1525-35
Medium and support Oil on wood
Dimensions 77.5 × 102.9 cm
Acquisition credit Bequeathed by Lady Lindsay, 1912
Inventory number NG2907
Location Not on display
Collection Main Collection
The Madonna and Child
Italian, North

The Virgin is seated on the ground in a rural landscape outside a sixteenth-century town, as the ‘Madonna of Humility’. The Christ Child lies across her lap, and gazes up at her while she looks down tenderly. Our viewpoint is very low, so we are also looking up at the Virgin, like Christ. The group of the Virgin and Child is probably derived from an influential fresco by Titian of about 1523 in the Doge’s Palace, Venice, destroyed in the fire of 1574.

Tiny figures in the landscape go about their daily lives, unaware of the holy figures in their midst. The golden light of dawn breaks, gilding the edges of the blue-grey clouds and outlining the Madonna and Child who inhabit and dominate this contemporary landscape, as a permanent presence and reminder of heaven on earth.

We do not know who painted this picture. In the past it has been attributed to an unknown artist from Brescia, to Giorgione and to a follower of Titian.

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