Overview

Gentile da Fabriano's patrons were princes, the church, and various city governments as well as the customary merchant clients. His art has a cosmopolitan flavor, in which brilliant color, textural richness, and ornamental pattern are combined.

In the Madonna and Child Enthroned, painted in Florence, Mary sits on a bench covered by floral material that falls onto an elaborately tiled floor. The elegantly attired figures are surrounded by four angels, barely visible, which have been incised into the gold-leaf background. In contrast to earlier devotional images in which the Madonna and Child appear as a celestial vision, the holy figures here appear very corporeal. As if to emphasize Mary's role as Divine Mother, the Christ Child gestures with his right hand toward the Latin word Mater inscribed on the collar of her mantle. The string in his other hand tethers a butterfly, a traditional symbol of Christ's resurrection from the tomb.

Gentile's art is typical of the International Style, a manner of painting which became popular at courts throughout Europe in the late fourteenth and early fifteenth centuries. Characterized by a refined decorative elegance, a concern for continuous rhythms, and the lavish use of gold and bright colors, this aristocratic manner fused the stylized art of the Middle Ages with the emerging naturalistic interests of the Renaissance.

Inscription

upper center on the Virgin's collar: MATER (Mother) [DEI]; across bottom on the hem of her dress: AVE MARIA GRATIA PLENA DOM[INVS] TECV[M] BEN[EDICTA] (Hail, Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee, blessed), from Luke 1:28

Marks and Labels

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Provenance

Alexander Barker [d. 1873], London, who possibly acquired it in Florence;[1] (his sale, Christie, Manson & Woods, London, 6 June 1874, no. 45); (Grüner). E.J. Sartoris, London(?), and Paris, by 1876;[2] (Nathan Wildenstein and René Gimpel, Paris and New York), by 1913;[3] purchased 1918 by Henry Goldman [1856-1937], New York;[4] (Duveen Brothers, Inc., London and New York);[5] sold March 1937 to the Samuel H. Kress Foundation, New York;[6] gift 1939 to NGA.

Exhibition History

1876
Exhibition of Works by the Old Masters. Winter Exhibition, Royal Academy of Arts, London, 1876, no. 195, as The Virgin and Child.
1910
Loan to display with permanent collection, Musée des Arts Décoratifs, Paris, at least 1910-1911.
1920
Fiftieth Anniversary Exhibition, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, 1920, unnumbered catalogue.

Bibliography

1941
Duveen Brothers. Duveen Pictures in Public Collections of America. New York, 1941: no. 26, repro.
1941
Preliminary Catalogue of Paintings and Sculpture. National Gallery of Art, Washington, 1941: 74, no. 366.
1942
Book of Illustrations. National Gallery of Art, Washington, 1942: 247, repro. 110.
1944
Cairns, Huntington, and John Walker, eds., Masterpieces of Painting from the National Gallery of Art. New York, 1944: 26, color repro.
1944
Frankfurter, Alfred M. The Kress Collection in the National Gallery. New York, 1944: 74, repro. no. 49
1945
Paintings and Sculpture from the Kress Collection. National Gallery of Art, Washington, 1945 (reprinted 1947, 1949): 23, repro.
1951
Einstein, Lewis. Looking at Italian Pictures in the National Gallery of Art. Washington, 1951: 30, repro. 28.
1957
Shapley, Fern Rusk. Comparisons in Art: A Companion to the National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC. London, 1957 (reprinted 1959): pl. 4
1959
Paintings and Sculpture from the Samuel H. Kress Collection. National Gallery of Art, Washington, 1959: 46, repro.
1959
Shapley, Fern Rusk. Early Italian Painting in the National Gallery of Art. Washington, D.C., 1959 (Booklet Number Three in Ten Schools of Painting in the National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.): 22, color repro.
1961
Seymour 1961 (Kress), 9-12, color repro.
1963
Walker, John. National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C. New York, 1963 (reprinted 1964 in French, German, and Spanish): 298, repro.
1965
Summary Catalogue of European Paintings and Sculpture. National Gallery of Art, Washington, 1965: 56
1966
Cairns, Huntington, and John Walker, eds. A Pageant of Painting from the National Gallery of Art. 2 vols. New York, 1966: 1:10, color repro.
1966
Shapley, Fern Rusk. Paintings from the Samuel H. Kress Collection: Italian Schools, XIII-XV Century. London, 1966: 76-77, fig. 212.
1968
European Paintings and Sculpture, Illustrations. National Gallery of Art, Washington, 1968: 48, repro.
1975
European Paintings: An Illustrated Summary Catalogue. National Gallery of Art, Washington, 1975: 148, repro.
1979
Shapley, Fern Rusk. Catalogue of the Italian Paintings. 2 vols. National Gallery of Art, Washington, 1979: I:195-196, II:pl. 136
1985
European Paintings: An Illustrated Catalogue. National Gallery of Art, Washington, 1985: 171, repro.
1991
Kopper, Philip. America's National Gallery of Art: A Gift to the Nation. New York, 1991: 178, color repro.
1992
National Gallery of Art, Washington. National Gallery of Art, Washington, 1992: 13, repro.
2003
Boskovits, Miklós, and David Alan Brown, et al. Italian Paintings of the Fifteenth Century. The Systematic Catalogue of the National Gallery of Art. Washington, D.C., 2003: 288-292, color repro.
2004
Hand, John Oliver. National Gallery of Art: Master Paintings from the Collection. Washington and New York, 2004: 18, no. 10, color repro.

Technical Summary

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