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Marco Basaiti, The Virgin and Child

Key facts
Full title The Virgin and Child
Artist Marco Basaiti
Artist dates active 1496 - 1530
Date made about 1496-1505
Medium and support Oil on poplar
Dimensions 62.9 × 47 cm
Inscription summary Signed
Acquisition credit Salting Bequest, 1910
Inventory number NG2499
Location Gallery B
Collection Main Collection
Previous owners
The Virgin and Child
Marco Basaiti

The small size of this painting suggests that it was made for private worship at home. Images that stressed the maternal bond between mother and son, as this one does, were often made to appeal particularly to women.

The design of the picture, where the Virgin Mary is placed against a mountainous background that is partly obscured by a dark green hanging, was popularised by Giovanni Bellini, whose workshop produced numerous images of this kind. The Virgin’s cloak falls over the ledge into the viewer’s space, a visual trick that suggests she is just within our reach.

This is an early work by the Venetian artist, Marco Basaiti. He signed it at the left edge of the marble parapet, but the bottom part of the signature was cut off when the painting’s lower edge was trimmed down before it entered the National Gallery’s collection.

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