National Gallery of Art - THE COLLECTION
image of Madonna of Humility Jacopo della Quercia (artist)
Sienese, 1371/1374 - 1438
Madonna of Humility, c. 1400
marble with traces of gilding
overall: 58.4 x 48.8 x 28.3 cm (23 x 19 3/16 x 11 1/8 in.)
Samuel H. Kress Collection
On View
From the Tour: 15th-Century Sculpture in Tuscany
Object 1 of 6

Jacopo della Quercia was born in Siena, where he was probably trained by his father, Piero di Angelo. He was active in Lucca, Ferrara, Siena, and Bologna, where he carved works in both marble and wood. As the most important sculptor of Siena, Della Quercia strongly influenced the younger Florentine master Donatello, and, a generation later, Michelangelo.

The devotional theme of the Madonna of Humility originated in Sienese painting during the fourteenth century. The Virgin is seated humbly on the ground, in a pose that emphasizes her humanity and her submission to divine will. With her left knee bent beneath her and her right knee slightly raised, she holds the Christ child on her lap. Jesus clutches his mother’s dress as he turns his head toward the viewer, as if distracted from nursing. Both mother and child are draped with heavy fabrics that fall in soft, rhythmic folds over their substantial bodies. Traces of gilding and polychromy can be seen on the hair of the figures and along the inner folds and hems of the garments. The robust figures and compact composition endow this work with a monumental quality that belies its small size.

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