Virgin and Child with St. Anne and the Infant St. John

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Object Details


Virgin and Child with St. Anne and the Infant St. John


Frederick Sommer (American, born Italy, 1905 - 1999)






Gelatin silver print


24 x 17.6 cm (9 7/16 x 6 15/16 in.)


© Frederick and Frances Sommer Foundation

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Comprised of an illustration torn from an old children's book and a lump of hardened molten metal from a burned-out automobile, this photograph by Frederick Sommer is titled after Leonardo da Vinci's drawing of the same name. The amorphous shape laid on top of an anonymous lithograph of a figure seated in the woods next to a basket closely resembles the outline of the Madonna and Child from the fifteenth-century drawing. The smiling head of a boy emerging from the foliage becomes the infant Saint John. In the union of an abstract object with unrelated representational imagery, Sommer has made an art historical reference that is both literal and spiritual.

1994 -

Frederick Sommer Prescott, AZ, USA, American, born Italy, 1905 - 1999

Frederick Sommer: Poetry and Logic (December 6, 1994 to February 12, 1995)
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum (Malibu), December 6, 1994 to February 12, 1995
Revelation: Representations of Christ in Photography (May 22 to October 18, 2003)
  • The Israel Museum (Jerusalem), May 22 to October 18, 2003
The Photographs of Frederick Sommer: A Centennial Tribute (May 10 to September 4, 2005)
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum at the Getty Center (Los Angeles), May 10 to September 4, 2005

Frederick Sommer at Seventy-Five: A Retrospective, edited by Constance W. Glenn and Jane K. Bledsoe (published on the occasion of an exhib. organized by Leland Rice for Long Beach: Art Museum and Galleries, California State University, Long Beach, 1980), p. 26.

Sommer, Frederick. Venus, Jupiter & Mars: The Photographs of Frederick Sommer, edited by John Weiss, exh. cat.; cosponsored by the Department of Art, University of Delaware and the Delaware Art Museum (Wilmington, Del.: Delaware Art Museum, 1980), fig. 87 and pl. 9.

Sommer, Frederick. Sommer: Words (v. 1)/Images (v. 2) (Tucson: Center for Creative Photography, University of Arizona, 1984), pl. 38.

Sommer, Frederick. Frederick Sommer, the Mistress of This World Has No Name, curated by E.M. Strauss; preface by Dianne Perry Vanderlip; essay by Stephen Aldrich (Denver: Denver Art Museum, 1987), p. 44.

Masterpieces of the J. Paul Getty Museum: Photographs (Los Angeles: J. Paul Getty Museum, 1999), p. 125.

The J. Paul Getty Museum Handbook of the Collections. 7th ed. (Los Angeles: J. Paul Getty Museum, 2007), p. 317, ill.