Sano di Pietro 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 and accompanied by saints and angels. 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. The Christ Child presses his cheek against the veil covering the Virgin’s cheek and holds a bird which symbolizes the Resurrection. They are accompanied by Saint John the Baptist holding a red cross and a scroll inscribed "ECCE A.," Saint Peter Martyr in a Dominican habit, Saint Jerome dressed as a cardinal, and San Bernardino bearing the monogram of Christ engraved on a gold tablet, along with four angels. The design for the heads of the Virgin and Child reappears with some frequency in paintings by Sano’s workshop, suggesting the use of a cartoon (full-scale drawing) to transfer the image.
Inscription: Inscribed: (lower left, on scroll held by Saint John) ECCE A; (on Madonna's halo) AVE GRATIA PLENA DOMIN; (on Christ Child's halo) XHS XPO
Vicomte Cartier de Vance, Château de la Fauconnière, Gannat, Allier; Henry Schniewind, New York; Richard Erderheimer, New York 1936. Acquired by Robert Lehman in May 1938.
Richard Ederheimer. A Selection of Paintings by the Old Masters. New York, 1936, no. 5.
The Lehman Collection. Exh. cat., Cincinnati, 1959, p. 16, no. 44.