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One of many images of the Madonna and Child by Bellini this painting shows the Virgin Mary gently supporting Jesus, who is balanced on a marble balustrade running across the foreground of the picture. There are balustrades in many of Bellini's paintings of the Madonna and Child, simultaneously inviting the viewer to worship while maintaining an element of distance. The infant Jesus is depicted with tender realism, playing with a delicate flower dangling from a thread. The painting was much overpainted and badly cleaned in the past, but nonetheless the serenity of the image against the dark background is still most effective and beautiful. It was thought that the plain background might cover a landscape scene, as found in some similar works, but X-ray photography showed that there is nothing underneath the black layer.
oil on panel
H 62.3 x W 47.7 cm
gift from Sir William and Lady Burrell to the City of Glasgow, 1944