National Gallery of Art - THE COLLECTION
image of Madonna and Child [obverse] Andrea di Bartolo (painter)
Sienese, active from 1389 - died 1428
Madonna and Child [obverse], c. 1415
tempera on panel
painted surface: 28.4 × 17 cm (11 3/16 × 6 11/16 in.) overall: 30 × 18.6 × 0.8 cm (11 13/16 × 7 5/16 × 5/16 in.) framed: 52.1 x 34.3 x 7.6 cm (20 1/2 x 13 1/2 x 3 in.)
Samuel H. Kress Collection
On View
From the Tour: Painting in Siena in the 14th and Early 15th Centuries
Object 7 of 10

While Andrea's scenes of the Virgin's life were intended to relate a story and to engage the viewer by depicting sacred events in familiar settings, this small image invites contemplation.

This way of representing the Virgin—in which she sits not on an elaborate throne but on a simple cushion on the ground—is known as the Madonna of Humility, probably reflecting the relationship between the Latin words humilitas ("humility") and humus ("ground"). It seems to have been invented by Simone Martini and became extremely popular. As Mary suckles the infant, she gazes wistfully away. Contemporary viewers would have instantly "read" her expression as reflecting sadness at her son's future.

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