Madonna and Child

Paolo di Giovanni Fei Italian

On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 601

This independent panel of the Madonna nursing her child is among the masterpieces of fourteenth-century Sienese painting. It characterizes a common maternal activity as an icon of devotion. Although the frontal pose seems to harken back to an earlier period, the panel is painted 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 on the Virgin’s brooch. Their richness evokes the materiality of enamel and other tactile objects, and their presence reveals a range of technical skill and craft that may indicate collaboration with another artist.

Madonna and Child, Paolo di Giovanni Fei (Italian, San Quirico, active by 1369–died 1411), Tempera on wood, gold ground

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