Andrea del Sarto

The Virgin and the Child with Saints Catherine, Elizabeth and John the Baptist

The Virgin and the Child with Saints Catherine, Elizabeth and John the Baptist
(click image to zoom-in)
Author: Andrea del Sarto
Painting, Oil on canvas, 102x80 cm
Origin: Italy, 1510s

In the early 16th century Andrea del Sarto was amongst the leading artists of Florence and one of the most outstanding figures of the Italian High Renaissance. He left us frescoes, many altar compositions and portraits. This work is of the type known as a Sacra Conversazione , in which the Virgin Mary was shown surrounded by saints. Del Sarto transformed the traditional composition into a lively and informal scene: Elizabeth and Mary are engaged in a conversation, while the young St Catherine listens attentively. The children - Christ and John the Baptist - mischievously seek to draw attention to themselves. In these different figures the artist reveals a fine sense of how people of varying ages behave, how their gestures and facial expressions differ from each other.

Del Sarto was famous for his transparent sfumato - the heritage of Leonardo da Vinci. There is a notable likeness between Mary and Elizabeth, and it is possible that the model for both was the artist's wife, Lucrezia del Fede.

Personage: Madonna and Child
Style: Renaissance
Source of entry: Collection of Empress Josephine, Malmaison, 1815
Theme: The Bible and Christianity

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