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The Adoration of the Christ Child

Biagio d'Antonio da Firenze, Italian (active Florence, Rome, and Faenza), documented 1476 - 1504

Made in Italy, Europe

Late 15th century

Tempera and gold on panel

38 3/8 x 22 3/8 inches (97.5 x 56.8 cm)

Curatorial Department:
European Painting

* Gallery 309, European Art 1100-1500, third floor

Accession Number:
Cat. 62

Credit Line:
John G. Johnson Collection, 1917

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The Virgin adoring the Christ Child immediately after birth was one of the most depicted themes in Renaissance Florentine art of the 1400s, particularly in paintings like this one, which were made for private homes. In the upper left background is a view of the walled city of Florence in which the cupola of its famed cathedral is particularly prominent. However, the artist combined real and invented views: the bridge going over the river is a fantasy.

The Virgin's actions following Christ's birth are described in the thirteenth-century text The Meditations on the Life of Christ: "She knelt to adore him and render thanks to God . . . Joseph adored him likewise." The subject became popular in Italian art after Saint Bridget of Sweden (1302–1373) had a similar vision of the Nativity while on a pilgrimage to Bethlehem.

* Works in the collection are moved off view for many different reasons. Although gallery locations on the website are updated regularly, there is no guarantee that this object will be on display on the day of your visit.