Oil on canvas.
With great gentleness, this Virgin and Child immediately arouses in the viewer the feeling of maternal love. Depicted seated in a three-quarter bust position, like Leonardo da Vinci's Madonna Benois, Mary looks down on the Child. Humbly dressed in red and blue, a light veil placed on the back of her head reveals her braided hair, recalling Leonardo's preparatory drawing of Leda. Like the Renaissance genius, our artist depicts the Virgin with her eyelids half-closed, as if to signify the gentle shyness of a mother before the divine nature of her son. In his mother's arms, he blesses the faithful with a gesture of the hand. His delicate curly hair is outlined by fine golden lines, reminiscent of the hair of the Child in Andrea Solario's Madonna of the Green Cushion, in the Louvre. Like Raphael in The Sistine Madonna, our artist places his figures in cloudy swirls, like a celestial vision. At a time when Protestants were showing their violent hostility towards the Virgin, our artist intends to reiterate her sanctity. By giving her a very human face, he represents a true mother linked to her son in every fiber of her flesh. Exempted by God from the mark of Original Sin, this Virgin and Child thus embodies the paradox of the supernatural union of virginity and motherhood. At the sight of this painting, the spectator will remember the verses of Antoine du Saix (Lyon 1505 - id. 1579) celebrating the Virgin:
"As a voice penetrates in the house
Without opening and in the heart the thought
Sun in glass and by this is pierced:
Thus Jesus, to take humanity,
Came into Mary and was never hurt,
But remains mother in virginity.
We can thus say of our painting that it is a synthesis of the manner of several generations of artists of the Italian Renaissance. The humility of this representation places it stylistically before the Baroque movement, the softness of the contrasts of light pleading for a painting prior to the influence of Caravaggio. Indeed, the pictorial tradition of the High Renaissance continued late, as shown by the Virgins painted by the workshop of Luca Longhi (Ravenna 1507 - id. 1580) at the end of the 16th century. The choice of the golden color for the background is a link between the Italian and Byzantine cultures. Indeed, this pictorial tradition spread to Italy via Emilian artists when Ravenna was the main trading port with links to Constantinople. Thus, the production of this work can be traced back to central Italy, probably by an Emilian artist of the late sixteenth century.
We have chosen to present this delicate painting in a molded wooden frame called "à cassetta".
Dimensions : 76,5 x 58 cm - 95,5 x 77 cm with the frame
- FORTUNATI, Pietrantonio Vera, COLONNA, Stefano, La pittura in Emilia e in Romagna: Il Cinquecento, Milan, Electa, 1995.
- HALL, Marcia B, After Raphael: Painting in Central Italy in the Sixteenth Century, New-York, Cambridge University Press, 1999.
- MALE, Emile, L'art religieux du XVIIe siècle, [Armand Colin, 1931], 2nd edition, Paris, Armand Colin, 1984.
- REAU, Louis, Iconographie de l'art chrétien, 3 vols. Paris, Presses Universitaires de France, 1959.