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Madonna and Child
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Madonna and Child

Description Conservation Provenance Credit
Description The Virgin Mary was considered the divine protector of the city Siena thanks to the popular belief that she guided the city to victory in a battle against its rival, Florence, in 1280. Images of the Madonna, often accompanied by the Christ Child, were therefore extremely popular in the homes of Sienese citizens, who viewed such images as expressions of devotion as well as civic pride. In this intimate example, still in its original engaged frame, the Madonna and Child glance downward as if seeking to engage the devotee who would have originally knelt in prayer before the picture. The Christ Child, wearing an elaborately patterned cloak, raises his hand in a gesture of blessing, acknowledging that the devotee’s prayers have been heard. One of the greatest geniuses of Renaissance Siena, Francesco di Giorgio was active not only as a painter but also a sculptor, architect, and engineer. One of the artist’s few surviving small-scale works, this panel shows Francesco sacrificing innovation for tradition by placing the Madonna and Child against a flat gold background. In the 1470s, gold backgrounds had largely gone out of fashion in other Italian cities (like Florence) but they remained popular in Siena, where they brought to mind the paintings from the city’s artistic “Golden Age” of the late 1300s, when gold backgrounds were ever-present.
Date Description Narrative
1/05/1959Examinationexamined for condition
11/05/1964Treatmentcleaned; other
11/05/1964Technical Reportexamined for technical study
3/05/1973Treatmentcleaned; loss compensation; coated
Provenance Arnold Seligman, Rey & Company [date and mode of acquisition unknown]; Henry Walters, Baltimore, 1920 [mode of acquisition unknown]; Walters Art Museum, 1931, by bequest.
Credit Acquired by Henry Walters, 1920

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ca. 1470 (Renaissance)
tempera and gold leaf on wood panel
(Painting & Drawing)
Accession Number
Panel H including added strip on left side: 24 1/8 x W: 17 1/4 x D: 1 1/4 in. (61.3 x 43.8 x 3.2 cm); Added strip W: 1 in. (2.5 cm)
Location Within Museum
Not On View


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