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Branchini Madonna, 1427

Giovanni di Paolo

Italian, 1403-1482
Tempera and gold leaf on panel
72 x 39 in. (182.9 x 99.1 cm)
The Norton Simon Foundation
F.1978.01.P
© 2012 The Norton Simon Foundation

On view

Giovanni di Paolo combines for us two pictorial types of the Virgin here: the Madonna of Humility, who sits on the ground, and the Virgin as Queen of Heaven, who wears a crown and an ermine cloak. Scattered throughout the picture are symbolic references to the Virgin and to Christ: thistles on Christ’s drapery allude to His Passion; pomegranates foretell the promise of the Resurrection; roses and marigolds refer to Mary; and cornflowers relate to Christ and heaven.

The artist has inscribed his own prayer around the Virgin’s halo: “Protect, O Virgin, the man who has painted thee.” This panel originally hung in the Branchini family chapel in the Church of San Domenico, Sienna.

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