Oil on wood
Framed: 103 x 125 x 16 cm (40 9/16 x 49 3/16 x 6 5/16 in.); Unframed: 56 x 78.8 cm (22 1/16 x 31 in.)
Bequest of John L. Severance 1942.636
The two figures who kneel with their hands clasped are likely the donors who commissioned this painting.
This work reinterprets the most common subject in Renaissance art—the Madonna and Child. The tender relationship of mother and son spoke to Mary’s role as intercessor for humanity, sparked an empathetic relationship with Christ, and helped invest Christian practice with tenderness and compassion. Works at this scale were usually for private devotion, but distinct styles and refined craftsmanship were also appreciated for their artistry and creativity. Here the donors occupy the same landscape as the holy figures, emphasizing how Mary’s compassion extends into our world. This painting was never finished, visible in Saint Anthony Abbot’s beard and the female saint’s empty hand, which makes her identity impossible to pin down.
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