Giovanni Battista Rosso

The Virgin and the Child with Angels

The Virgin and the Child with Angels
(click image to zoom-in)
Author: Giovanni Battista Rosso
Painting, Oil on canvas, 111x75.5 cm
Origin: Italy, Circa 1522

Rosso Fiorentino was one of the first of the Florentine Mannerists, whose work was characterized by a departure from the principles of the classic style of the High Renaissance and a desire to express the impermanent and the disharmonious. Yet in formal artistic device, such as the resolution of the composition and the plastic expression of form, the Mannerists retained many links with the Renaissance.

In this picture our attention is immediately caught by the lack of any emotional link between the figures: even Mary does not look at Christ as He presses to her knees. Christ here is not a baby, as dictated by tradition, but a toddler of around five years old. The location is also indeterminate: Mary floats on a throne composed of the figures of angels, and she is lit by fantastical blue rays which are replaced towards the bottom by a sinister red light. The painting leaves an impression of duality both in lighting and the treatment of the figures. The bodies of some angels are treated with tangibility typical of Michelangelo, while the others are ghostly transparent in their incorporeity.

Personage: Madonna and Child
Style: Mannerism
Source of entry: acquired in Paris with the assistance of Baron Dominique Vivant Denon, 1810
Theme: The Bible and Christianity

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