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Workshop of Sandro Botticelli, The Virgin and Child with Saint John the Baptist

Key facts
Full title The Virgin and Child with Saint John the Baptist
Artist Workshop of Sandro Botticelli
Artist dates about 1445 - 1510
Date made probably about 1482-98
Medium and support Tempera and oil on wood
Dimensions 95.3 × 94 cm
Acquisition credit Salting Bequest, 1910
Inventory number NG2497
Location Not on display
Collection Main Collection
Previous owners
The Virgin and Child with Saint John the Baptist
Workshop of Sandro Botticelli

The Virgin Mary kneels, her hands clasped in prayer. Her downward gaze meets that of her infant son, Christ, who is lying on the edge of her blue cloak, leaning against a bundle of straw. Saint John the Baptist, Christ’s cousin, looks down at him from behind. The scroll he holds bears a Latin inscription that anticipates the words he will say before baptising Christ in the River Jordan (‘Behold the Lamb of God’), which may explain the prominent landscape setting.

Circular paintings like this one were known as tondi (from the Italian for ‘round’). They were much sought after in fifteenth-century Florence, and the workshop of Sandro Botticelli specialised in their production, as three further examples in the National Gallery’s collection demonstrate. The depiction of Saint John the Baptist would have also appealed to Florentines as he was their patron saint.

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