Paolo di Giovanni Fei (Italian, Sienese, active by 1369, died 1411)
Tempera on wood, gold ground
Overall, with engaged frame, 34 1/4 x 23 1/4 in. (87 x 59.1 cm); painted surface 27 x 16 7/8 in. (68.6 x 42.9 cm)
Bequest of George Blumenthal, 1941 (41.190.13)
This independent panel of the Madonna nursing her child is among the masterpieces of fourteenth-century Sienese painting. Its composition was inspired by a work by Ambrogio Lorenzetti, but it is interpreted with Fei's special feeling for decorative richness and technical refinement. The engaged frame is original, as are the gold-backed, glass medallions with images of the Annunciation, saints, and the head of Christ. The picture dates from the 1370s. It may originally have stood on an altar in a small chapel in a church or in a domestic interior.