National Gallery of Art - THE COLLECTION
image of Madonna and Child with Saint Jerome, Saint Bernardino, and Angels Sano di Pietro (artist)
Sienese, 1405 - 1481
Madonna and Child with Saint Jerome, Saint Bernardino, and Angels, c. 1460/1470
tempera on panel
painted surface: 62.5 x 42 cm (24 5/8 x 16 9/16 in.) overall: 64.8 x 43.8 cm (25 1/2 x 17 1/4 in.)
Samuel H. Kress Collection
1939.1.274
On View
From the Tour: Siena in the 1400s
Object 2 of 7

In the mid-1400s, Sano di Pietro's workshop was the busiest in Siena. He and his assistants produced—we might almost say mass produced—scores of devotional panels like this one, often for religious fraternities. His half-length Madonnas are iconlike, objects for contemplation. Mother and child are surrounded by saints and angels, wreathed by their halos. The bright colors and the rich gold, textured with punched decoration, have a jewellike quality that appealed to the Sienese taste for ornament and luxury. Sano's images met conventional religious expectations as well. This Madonna's wide oval face and narrow almond eyes have the look of a Virgin painted a hundred years earlier.

The saints are Jerome (left) and Bernardino (right). Sano would have seen the latter preaching in the Campo, Siena's central public square. In frescoes, Sano recorded the throngs and festival atmosphere that attended Bernardino's dawn sermons. Here he gives the saint the sunken cheeks of a man who has lost all his teeth to ascetic self-denial.

When first documented as an independent master, Sano was already in his thirties. He seems to have studied in Sassetta's workshop and to have collaborated with the Master of the Osservanza, also associated with Sassetta. It has been suggested that the Master of the Osservanza is, in fact, the young Sano.

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