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The Virgin and Child with DonorsEnlarge image

The Virgin and Child with Donors, c. 1300-1325

Unknown (Italian School, Tuscany - 14th century)

egg tempera and gold leaf on wood, likely poplar
35.5 x 16.5 cm
Purchased 1922
National Gallery of Canada (no. 2023)

The couple kneeling in prayer commissioned this work. The wife is on the Virgin's right, the honourable position generally reserved for the husband. They are privileged to witness a vision: the Virgin and Child themselves appear to them. The Virgin is seated on a stone altar, site of the Mass; her throne's back and arms take their form from contemporary church architecture. The unknown artist has awkwardly attempted to show the throne in perspective - a new development in art. He also brought a sense of naturalism to the figure of the child, who unselfconsciously rests his arm on his mother's shoulder.

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