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Carpaccio, Vittore
Italian, 1465 - 1526
Vittore Carpaccio
The Virgin Reading
c. 1505

Vittore Carpaccio (c. 1465–1525/1526)
The Virgin Reading
c. 1505, oil on fabric transferred from wood, Samuel H. Kress Collection, 1939.1.354


left: Old state showing partial Christ child. From Giuseppe Fiocco, Carpaccio, 1930, pl. 119
right: Old state showing partial Christ child. Photograph: Murray Keyes, c.1938, infrared, film negative

Scholars believe that the left side of this painting was cut down in the late 17th century and originally represented a Madonna and Child. The image on the left, published by Giuseppe Fiocco in 1930 and a later infrared photo (right), show the remnants of the left arm and halo of the Christ child who is reclining against a cushion on the parapet.


Vittore Carpaccio, Madonna and Child, early 1490s, sanguine and pen, Courtauld Institute Galleries, London, Princes Gate Collection. Photograph: Wildenstein

This drawing generally indicates the original composition of The Virgin Reading.


Current state. Photograph: National Gallery of Art

This modern image reflects the state of the painting when it entered the Gallery in 1939. Many elements have been reglazed or overpainted, including the Virgin’s robe and veil, the sky, the parapet, and the vines running down the inside of the wall. The partial figure of the Christ child is now completely obscured.