With their faces gently pressed together, the interaction between the Virgin and Christ Child evokes a tender intimacy. This motif appears in numerous works by Sano di Pietro and his workshop (for example, in another painting in the Lehman Collection, 1975.1.39). The particular manner of concealing the Christ Child’s right cheek behind the Virgin’s face was probably inspired by a celebrated Madonna painted by the Sienese master Ambrogio Lorenzetti (Pinacoteca Nazionale, Siena). Sano was a popular and highly prolific Sienese painter and illuminator, whose workshop produced numerous devotional images of the Madonna and Child, frequently shown in bust-length. The close stylistic affinities between works attributed to Sano and the enigmatic Sienese artist known as the Osservanza Master may indicate that they represent a single artistic identity. It is also possible that the paintings attributed to the Osservanza Master are the product of a collaborative workshop to which these artists belonged.
Paolo Paolini, Rome. Acquired by Philip Lehman in 1916.
Émile Gaillard. Un peintre siennois au XVe siècle: Sano di Pietro, 1406–1481. Chambéry, 1923, p. 204, Pl. 36.
Bernhard Berenson. Italian Pictures of the Renaissance. Oxford, 1932, p. 500.
George Harold Edgell. A History of Sienese Painting. New York, 1932, p. 212, no. 293.
Herbert Friedmann. The Symbolic Goldfinch: Its History and Significance in European Devotional Art. Washington, 1946, p. 154.
The Lehman Collection. Exh. cat., Cincinnati, 1959, p. 16, no. 40.
Bernard Berenson. Italian Pictures of the Renaissance: Central Italian and North Italian Schools. Vol. 1, London, 1968, p. 376.
Katharine Baetjer. European Paintings in the Metropolitan Museum of Art by artists born in or before 1865: A summary catalogue. Vol. 1, New York, 1980, p. 166.
John Pope-Hennessy assisted by Laurence B. Kanter inThe Robert Lehman Collection. Vol. 1, Italian Paintings. New York, 1987, pp. 150-151, no. 63.
Katharine Baetjer. European Paintings in The Metropolitan Museum of Art by Artists Born before 1865: A Summary Catalogue. New York, 1995, p. 57.