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The Virgin and Child with Saints
Raffaellino del Garbo
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The Virgin Mary is seated on a stone bench under a richly jewelled canopy, the infant Christ on her lap. He leans over to the left, his hand raised in a gesture of blessing, and faces a female saint. The jar she holds identifies her as Mary Magdalene: it contains the ointment with which she would embalm Christ’s body after his death.

Standing opposite Mary Magdalene is Saint Catherine of Alexandria. She holds a palm branch as a symbol of her martyrdom. The Roman Emperor Maxentius had Catherine tortured on a spiked wheel like the one placed in front of her here. The peaceful landscape that opens out behind the balustrade contrasts with the ordeals of both Christ and Saint Catherine.

The National Gallery is home to a variety of circular paintings, known as tondi, from the fifteenth and early sixteenth centuries; this one stands out for its sheer size (128 cm in diameter) and its vibrant colours.

Key facts
Artist Raffaellino del Garbo
Artist dates living 1479?; died 1527?
Full title The Virgin and Child with the Magdalen and Saint Catherine of Alexandria
Date made about 1510
Medium and support Tempera on canvas, transferred from wood
Dimensions 128.3 x 128.3 cm
Acquisition credit Bequeathed by Sir Henry Bernhard Samuelson in memory of his father, 1937
Inventory number NG4903
Location in Gallery Not on display
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