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Key facts
Full title The Virgin and Child with Angels
Artist Probably by Benozzo Gozzoli
Artist dates 1420/2(?) - 1497
Date made about 1447-50
Medium and support Egg tempera on wood
Dimensions 29.2 x 21.6 cm
Acquisition credit Bought, 1945
Inventory number NG5581
Location Not on display
Collection Main Collection
Previous owners
The Virgin and Child with Angels
Probably by Benozzo Gozzoli

The Virgin’s sculptural presence – her voluminous draperies look as though carved from stone – is a moment of stillness in this little panel that rings with colour, pattern and gold details.

Gozzoli, who trained as a goldsmith and also painted illuminated manuscripts, was a popular artist among the wealthy and powerful. His glittering and exquisitely detailed pictures were luxury objects suitable for magnificent patrons; he worked on frescoes for the Pope and the ruling Florentine family, the Medici. Gozzoli may have painted this picture for an important cleric – the central shield decorating the edge of the canopy is engraved with a cross.

The formal pageantry of this scene is broken up with intimate details such as the angel who leans over to offer the infant Christ a little bird. The hedgerow in bloom that encloses the figures creates the effect of a private audience with the Virgin and Child and is probably meant to refer to the hortus conclusus, the enclosed garden that symbolised Mary’s virginity.

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