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Workshop of Giovanni Bellini, The Virgin and Child

Key facts
Full title The Virgin and Child
Artist Workshop of Giovanni Bellini
Artist dates about 1435 - 1516
Date made about 1490-1500
Medium and support Oil and tempera on wood
Dimensions 80 × 64.8 cm
Inscription summary Signed
Acquisition credit Layard Bequest, 1916
Inventory number NG3078
Location Not on display
Collection Main Collection
Previous owners
The Virgin and Child
Workshop of Giovanni Bellini

Small-scale images of the Virgin Mary and Christ Child made for private worship were one of Bellini’s specialities, and there was intense demand for them. Bellini had a large workshop of assistants who worked under his supervision, producing paintings in his style. This is one of those works, which is now, unfortunately, in poor condition.

It adopts the landscape view and the curtain backdrop found in several of Bellini’s own images of this kind (including one in our collection). Other elements are characteristic of Bellini’s works: the infant’s nakedness; the marble parapet separating us from the holy figures; and the cartellino (a piece of parchment or paper depicted within the painting) with Bellini’s now-damaged signature included as proof of his design and supervision of the work.

The marble ledge is probably intended to recall Christ’s tomb – a reminder that, according to Christians, he redeemed humanity through his death in adulthood.

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