Madonna and Child with Donors

Giovanni da Milano Italian

On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 601

Although from Milan, Giovanni was primarily active in Florence, where the refined naturalism of his figures was influential to artists working in the decades after the Black Death (the most fatal pandemic recorded in human history). The lunette-shaped picture above this doorway was probably set into an arch above a tomb. It shows a deceased husband and wife welcomed into heaven by the Christ Child. Two realms overlap—the sacred and the temporal—making the illusionistic ledge, the disparity in figure scale, and the clasped hands resonate with meaning. Despite the painting’s overall condition, the head and right hand of the Madonna give a good idea of the subtlety of Giovanni’s talent.

Madonna and Child with Donors, Giovanni da Milano (Italian, born Lombardy, active Florence 1346–69), Tempera on wood, gold ground

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