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The Virgin and Child
Lazzaro Bastiani

This picture is signed on the marble parapet that separates us from the Virgin Mary. She stands behind it and supports the Christ Child, who kneels on a cushion. He is fully dressed; some altarpieces in which the infant Christ is similarly well covered were said to have been commissioned for nuns.

Christ holds a small bird on a string – a goldfinch, barely visible as the paint surface is very worn. Goldfinches were symbols of the Passion (Christ’s torture and crucifixion) and so here acts as a reminder of his sacrifice in adulthood.

The picture has been dated to the middle part of Lazzaro Bastiani’s career, after he worked with Gentile Bellini on paintings for the Scuola Grande di San Marco, Venice (the headquarters of a religious confraternity). The garland of fruit and foliage which hangs behind the Virgin’s head is a decorative feature found in works by Bellini and other artists working in the Veneto, such as Giorgio Schiavone.

Key facts
Artist Lazzaro Bastiani
Artist dates active 1449; died 1512
Full title The Virgin and Child
Date made probably 1480-90
Medium and support Tempera and oil on wood
Dimensions 83.2 x 64.1 cm
Inscription summary Signed
Acquisition credit Presented by the Art Fund, 1905
Inventory number NG1953
Location in Gallery Not on display
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