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Lorenzo Veneziano, 'The Madonna of Humility with Saints Mark and John', about 1366-70

Key facts
Full title The Madonna of Humility with Saints Mark and John the Baptist
Artist Lorenzo Veneziano
Artist dates documented 1353 - 1379
Date made about 1366-70
Medium and support Egg tempera on poplar
Dimensions 31.3 × 57.5 cm
Inscription summary Inscribed
Acquisition credit Presented by Henry Wagner, 1924
Inventory number NG3897
Location Not on display
Collection Main Collection
Previous owners
The Madonna of Humility with Saints Mark and John
Lorenzo Veneziano

This panel is like a miniature altarpiece. The Virgin Mary and Christ Child occupy the central arch, with Saint Mark on the left and Saint John the Baptist on the right.

There is a Latin inscription in gold next to the Virgin, which means: ‘Holy Mary of Humility’. This title was often given to images in which Mary is shown seated on the ground. The brooch at her throat is in the shape of the sun, there is a crescent moon beneath her feet and 12 stars around her figure. These are the symbols of the so-called ‘Woman of the Apocalypse’ – a cosmic mother figure mentioned in the Book of Revelation and associated with the Virgin.

This painting was probably made for private worship. Saint Mark was the patron saint of Venice; the picture might have been made for a Venetian patron, perhaps someone named after Saint John the Baptist.

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