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Sodoma, The Madonna and Child with Saints and a Donor

Key facts
Full title The Madonna and Child with Saints Peter and Catherine of Siena and a Carthusian Donor
Artist Sodoma
Artist dates 1477 - 1549
Date made probably about 1525-35
Medium and support Oil on wood
Dimensions 48.9 × 37.8 cm
Acquisition credit Bought, 1883
Inventory number NG1144
Location Not on display
Collection Main Collection
Previous owners
The Madonna and Child with Saints and a Donor

This little painting for private devotion was almost certainly painted for the Olivetan monk who is being presented to the Virgin Mary and infant Christ by Saint Peter. Saint Catherine of Siena stands on the Virgin’s left. The two little keys hanging just below the monk’s elbow are cleverly echoed in the larger keys to heaven held by Saint Peter and may refer to a particular responsibility enjoyed by the monk. Traditionally, Olivetan monks carry keys to the monastery with them at all times.

The Virgin and Child are larger in this painting than the saints to either side of them and recall types from altarpieces by the fourteenth-century Sienese painters Duccio (1255–1319) and Simone Martini (1284–1344).

This picture is a good example of what made Sodoma so successful in Siena: his skilful blending of the traditions of the city’s past with his own free handling of paint and atmospheric effects and lighting derived from Leonardo.

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