Skip to main content
The Madonna and Child
Possibly by Sodoma
/

In a remote landscape, the Virgin, who is dressed in modest robes, holds the infant Christ and offers him milk. The baby turns away from her breast and smiles at us.

Images of the Virgin breastfeeding, known as ‘Virgo Lactans’, became popular during the Middle Ages as part of the increasing devotion to the Virgin Mary. Her milk was regarded as a sign of her own devotion and sacrifice, symbolically connected to the blood of Christ. Paintings of the Virgin breastfeeding became particularly popular in Tuscany from the fourteenth century onwards. But after the Council of Trent, held between 1545 and 1563, nudity in religious art was discouraged and such images were less frequently commissioned.

The picture is badly disfigured by old varnish, which has darkened. We are not certain that it is by Sodoma but another version (Richter Collection, London), similar in design, is attributed to him.

Key facts
Artist Possibly by Sodoma
Artist dates 1477 - 1549
Full title The Madonna and Child
Date made probably about 1520-30
Medium and support Oil on wood
Dimensions 79.7 x 65.1 cm
Acquisition credit Bought, 1854
Inventory number NG246
Location in Gallery Not on display
Download image
Download low-resolution image

Download an 800px wide, 72dpi copy of this image.

License this image

License and download a high resolution image for reproductions up to A3 size from the National Gallery Picture Library.

License image
Download low resolution image

This image is licensed for non-commercial use under a Creative Commons agreement.

Examples of non-commercial use are:

  • Research, private study, or for internal circulation within an educational organisation (such as a school, college or university)
  • Non-profit publications, personal websites, blogs, and social media

The image file is 800 pixels on the longest side.

As a charity, we depend upon the generosity of individuals to ensure the collection continues to engage and inspire. Help keep us free by making a donation today.

Yes, I'd like to donate
Or
Download low resolution image

You must agree to the Creative Commons terms and conditions to download this image.

Creative Commons Logo