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The Adoration of the Christ Child

Early 16th century
Marco Palmezzano (Marco di Antonio Palmeggiano), Italian (active Forlì and Venice), born c. 1459/63, died by 1539

The Adoration of the Christ Child—in which the Virgin kneels in prayer before the newborn baby Jesus, often with the elderly Joseph seated on one side—was a popular subject in Florentine fifteenth-century painting. On a predella (the bottom section of an altarpiece), the scene would have been positioned in the center, below the depiction of the Virgin and Child in the main tier of the altarpiece.

The episode of the Virgin’s Adoration of Christ, which does not appear in the gospel account of the Nativity, derives from Saint Bridget of Sweden’s fourteenth-century vision of the birth of Christ. This widely read account narrates how, with the newborn still naked on the ground, the Virgin knelt in worship.
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Object Details

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