Object Image

The Virgin and Child

This picture is signed on the marble parapet that separates us from the Virgin Mary. She stands behind it and supports the Christ Child, who kneels on a cushion. He is fully dressed; some altarpieces in which the infant Christ is similarly well covered were said to have been commissioned for nuns.

Christ holds a small bird on a string - a goldfinch, barely visible as the paint surface is very worn. Goldfinches were symbols of the Passion (Christ's torture and crucifixion) and so here acts as a reminder of his sacrifice in adulthood.

The picture has been dated to the middle part of Lazzaro Bastiani's career, after he worked with Gentile Bellini on paintings for the Scuola Grande di San Marco, ...
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probably 1480-90
Tempera and oil on wood
83.2 x 64.1cm
Image and text © The National Gallery, London, 2023

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