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Madonna and Child, Saint John the Baptist and Saint Catherine of Alexandria, ca. 1385

Artist: Giovanni del Biondo, Italian (Florentine School), active 1356-1399

Medium: Tempera on wood panel

Painting: 33 7/8 x 30 1/4 in. (86 x 76.8 cm)
Frame: 43 x 33 7/8 in. (109.2 x 86 cm)

Credit Line: Gift of the Samuel H. Kress Foundation

Object Number: 61.191

On View

Prince Golitzyn, St. Petersburg, Russia; Currie Collection, Combe Warren, Kingston Hills, England; Count Alessandro Contini Bonacossi (1878-1955), Rome-Florence, June 23,1933, Samuel H. Kress (1863-1955), New York, New York, 1939; Natonal Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C., 1952 [deaccessioned]; Samuel H. Kress Foundaton, New York, New York, 1961

Flanked by Saints John the Baptist and Catherine of Alexandria, the Christ child perches on the Virgin’s lap where he is taught to read. This touching moment of parenting emphasizes Christ’s humanity, while the scene of the Annunciation above confirms his divinity. The inscription on the bottom of the frame identifies the two saints and reads ‘Hail sweet Virgin Mary, succor us, pious mother.’ A prolific painter, del Biondo is today most noted for his vibrant color palette, as well as the jutting jaws and deep shadows of his masculine faces. Panels of this size were often commissioned as altarpieces for private chapels.