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Title Virgin and Child with St John the Baptist
Collection Wakefield Art Gallery
Artist Attributed to Spanish School
Previously attributed to Italian School
Date Earliest possibly about 1500
Date Latest possibly about 1600
Description This depiction of the Virgin and Christ Child is unusual, although not unique, as the Child is shown in a bed instead of in a manger, or sitting in the Virgin's lap. The darkened background and accomplished workmanship, particularly noticable in the intricate embroidery that embellishes the drapery, gives the work an air of intimacy.
Current Accession Number A1.237
Subject religion
Measurements 62.4 x 48.8 cm cm (estimate)
Material oil on canvas
Acquisition Details Given by Mrs A. A. Haley & Wakefield Permanent Art Fund (Friends of Wakefield Art Gallery and Museums) 1936.
Notes The Virgin's pose and features are remarkably similar to a work in the Gimeno collection, Barcelona, (published in: Trens, Manuel, Maria; Iconografia de la Virgen en el Arte Español, 1946, fig.116). The way in which both Virgins stand over their respective sons with crossed arms suggests a gesture precursory to that of the Pieta.

One of the most significant differences between the two paintings is the absence in the Wakefield panel of the cross that lies beside the Gimeno infant Christ, and the inscription that runs along the edge of his blanket: ‘Su Corazón Vigila' (His Heart Lives on). The Wakefield Child makes the same indicative gesture towards where the cross should be, but one must assume it was either never painted or erased at a later date. With the cross and the inscription missing, less emphasis is placed on Christ's forthcoming death, leaving the Virgin's Pietà-like embrace the reaction of any adoring mother. Despite this the Wakefield version is a more accomplished, pleasing and, due to the darkened background, more intimate work than that in Barcelona.

On 21 Nov 1952, Martin Davies of the National Gallery tentatively proposed that the work was of Italian or Spanish origin and not later than the first quarter of the eighteenth century. Michael Levey and Neil Mclaren, also of the National Gallery, were unable to ascertain if it was a Spanish or Italian work.

In May 1954, Professor Wittkower confirmed his belief that the work was Spanish sixteenth century, and most probably from the Barcelona School.

In June 1954, Chandler R. Post at the Fogg Art Museum, Harvard University, believed it to be 'surely Spanish or, maybe, Spanish-American'.

Rights Owner Wakefield Art Gallery
Author Christopher Wright




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