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Probably by Fra Bartolommeo, The Madonna and Child with Saint John

Key facts
Full title The Madonna and Child with Saint John
Artist Probably by Fra Bartolommeo
Artist dates 1472? - 1517
Date made perhaps about 1516
Medium and support Oil on canvas, transferred from wood
Dimensions 88.3 × 71.1 cm
Acquisition credit Bought, 1900
Inventory number NG1694
Location Not on display
Collection Main Collection
The Madonna and Child with Saint John
Probably by Fra Bartolommeo

The Virgin is seated simply on the ground in the pose known as ‘the Madonna of Humility’, with the Christ Child on her lap and the infant Saint John the Baptist to her side, forming a broad-based pyramid. The motif of the two holy children embracing derives from a design by Leonardo.

Saint John the Baptist has gathered up red fruit – perhaps cherries (known as the Fruit of Paradise) – in the blue cloth over his lap. He holds his traditional attribute of a simple reed cross, and his baptismal bowl hangs at his side.

The painting is very worn and it is hard to tell how much of it was painted by Fra Bartolommeo and how much by his workshop. There are numerous versions of this composition and two of them, in the Galleria Nazionale in Rome and Kenwood House, London, are signed by him and dated 1516.

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