Permanent Galleries

Madonna and Child, second half of 15th century

Master of Miniato
Madonna and Child, second half of 15th century
oil on wood panel
22 x 15.75 inches (55.88 x 40 cm)
Gift of Mr. John Walker

Intimate scenes of the Madonna and Child were a devotional art form that enjoyed an unparalleled popularity during the last two decades of the fifteenth century in Florence. These works were intended primarily for devotional purposes in private family shrines in bedrooms or gardens, or occasionally on the outer front wall of the home. Since the demand for them was great, workshops set up a system by which they could be mass-produced.

This example epitomizes the favorite type at the time, depicting the Virgin as a contemplative, human mother. She is no longer enthroned as the Queen of Heaven in a formal setting; instead she has become the Madonna of Humility. Also popular in Florence during this period were depictions that showed the Virgin as the Madonna of Witness and the Madonna of Love.

The fragile yet firm outline of the figures, their sense of weight and mass, and the rounded, pale face of the Virgin are characteristically Florentine features. However, the light, clear, bowled background and the delicate imaginary city indicate that the artist was also influenced by northern Italian painting. The placing of the infant on a parapet in the immediate foreground is also a typical northern element.