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This is probably the earliest of Michelangelo’s surviving paintings. It is unfinished – the black modelling of the Virgin Mary’s cloak has not had its final coats of blue, and the angels to the left have barely been begun. We don't know why the picture was never completed.
Saint John the Baptist in his camel skin looks out past us, perhaps to suggest his role in preparing the way for Christ’s ministry. The way the figures fill almost the entire panel is similar to a marble relief and reflects Michelangelo’s training as a sculptor.
The Virgin and Child with Saint John and Angels ('The Manchester Madonna')
Tempera on wood
H 104.5 x W 77 cm