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Italian, Umbrian, The Virgin and Child

Key facts
Full title The Virgin and Child
Artist Italian, Umbrian
Date made about 1473
Medium and support Tempera on wood
Dimensions 48.3 × 36.8 cm
Acquisition credit Salting Bequest, 1910
Inventory number NG2483
Location Not on display
Collection Main Collection
Previous owners
The Virgin and Child
Italian, Umbrian

Christ stands upright with the support of his mother, the Virgin Mary. He holds a transparent crystal orb and is clutching his semi-transparent drapery, which hangs over one shoulder like a Roman toga. He is intended to look like a miniature Roman emperor, a pose which conveys his spiritual authority even though he’s still an infant.

The small size and the intimate nature of this image of the Virgin gazing lovingly at the infant Christ suggest that it was made for private prayer at home. The frame is ‘engaged’, meaning that it is original and attached to the panel.

Since the painting would have been viewed up close, every detail is painted with delicacy and precision. We can see every petal of the roses strung on the hanging garland that frames the Virgin’s head, and the leaves of the tiny trees in the hazy landscape background are tinted with gold as they catch the early morning light.

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