The J. Paul Getty Museum

Madonna and Child with Musical Angels

Object Details


Madonna and Child with Musical Angels


Gherardo Starnina (Master of the Bambino Vispo) (Italian (Florentine), about 1360 - before 1413)




about 1410


Tempera and gold leaf on panel

Object Number:



92.1 × 51.4 cm (36 1/4 × 20 1/4 in.)

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Object Description

The Virgin Mary, enthroned as Queen of Heaven, is surrounded by angels, some in attitudes of prayer, others playing musical instruments and singing. Twisting in his mother’s lap, the infant Christ reaches for a lily, a symbol of Mary’s purity, and clutches a goldfinch, an allusion to his future Crucifixion.

The scene is rich in detail and saturated color. Gherardo Starnina delighted in sumptuous surface effects, such as the brocaded fabrics, the marble footstool, and the patterned floor tiles. These decorative tendencies, together with the willowy forms of the figures, reflect Starnina’s extended sojourn in Spain, where he had absorbed the local refined stylistic approaches. He probably produced this work sometime after his return to his native Florence, after June 1401.

Before being identified as the documented Florentine painter Gherardo Starnina, this artist was known simply as the “Master of the Bambino Vispo” (Master of the Lively Child), a soubriquet which refers to his penchant for painting Madonnas with a wriggling Christ Child, as in this painting.

by 1927 - 1928

Marczell de Nemes von Janoshaza, Hungarian, 1866 - 1930 (Budapest, Hungary; Munich, Germany) [sold, Nemes sale, Frederik Muller & Cie., Amsterdam, November 13, 1928, lot 10, to Harold Sidney Harmsworth.]

1928 - 1940

Harold Sidney Harmsworth, 1st viscount Rothermere, 1868 - 1940 (Stody Lodge, Norfolk, England), by inheritance to Esmond Cecil Harmsworth, second viscount Rothermere, 1940.

1940 - 1946

Esmond Cecil Harmsworth, 2nd viscount Rothermere, 1898 - 1978 (Daylesford, Gloucestershire, England) [sold, Rothermere sale, Christie's, London, August 2, 1946, lot 22, to Alfred Scharf.]

1946 -

Alfred Scharf, British, born Germany, 1900 - 1965 (London, England)

- 1977

Baron Paul Hatvany, 1899 - 1977 (London, England), upon his death, held in trust by the estate.

1977 - 1980

Estate of Baron Paul Hatvany, 1899 - 1977 [sold, Hatvany sale, Christie's, London, July 11, 1980, lot 18, to Norman Leitman.]

1980 - 1982

Norman Leitman (London, England), sold to the J. Paul Getty Museum, 1982.

Exhibition of Italian Art, 1200 - 1900 (January to March 1930)
  • Royal Academy of Arts (London), January to March 1930

Marle, Raimond van. The Development of the Italian Schools of Painting. 19 vols. (The Hague: Martinus Nijhoff, 1923-38), vol. 9 (1927), p. 196.

"Zur Auktion Nemes." Pantheon 2 (September 1928), p. 450, ill.

Frederik Muller & Cie., Amsterdam. Collection Marczell de Nemes: Tableaux, tapisseries, emaux de Limoges, miniatures sur velin, bronzes, orfevrerie. November 13-14, 1928, p. 4, lot 10, fig. 10.

North, S. Kennedy. "Scientific Restoration of Old Masters-Part II." International Studio 92 (October 1930), pp. 44-45, ill.

Exhibition of Italian Art 1200-1900, exh. cat. (London: Royal Academy of Arts, 1930), pp. 65-66, no. 72.

Balniel, Lord, and Kenneth Clark, eds. A Commemorative Catalogue of the Exhibition of Italian Art Held in the Galleries of the Royal Academy, Burlington House. 2 vols. (London: Royal Academy, Burlington House, with Oxford University Press, 1931), vol. 1, p. 19, no. 51.

Berenson, Bernard. Italian Pictures of the Renaissance: A List of the Principal Artists and Their Works with an Index of Places. 2 vols. (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1932), p. 340.

Konody, Paul George. Works of Art in the Collection of Viscount Rothermere (London: n.p., 1932), unpaginated, no. 8, ill.

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Berenson, Bernard. Pitture italiane del Rinascimento. Emilio Cecchi, trans. (Milan: Ulrico Hoepli, 1936), p. 277.

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Longhi, Roberto. "Fatti di Masolino e di Masaccio." Critica d'Arte 5, no. 34, pt. 2 (1940), p. 184.

Friedmann, Herbert. The Symbolic Goldfinch: Its History and Significance in European Devotional Art (Washington, DC: Pantheon Books, 1946), p. 147.

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Berenson, Bernard. Italian Pictures of the Renaissance: A List of the Principal Artists and Their Works: Florentine School. 2 vols. (New York: Phaidon Press, 1963), vol. 1, p. 140, fig. 473.

Longhi, Roberto. "Un 'aggiunta al 'Maestro del Bambino Vispo' (Miguel Alcañiz?)." Paragone, n.s. 16, no. 185 (July 1965), p. 39.

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Syre, Cornelia. Studien zum 'Maestro del Bambino vispo' und Starnina (Bonn: Rudolf Habelt, 1979), pp. 101-4, 166, 200, fig. 113.

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de Marchi, Andrea. Da Biduino ad Algardi pittura e scultura a confronto, exh. cat. (Turin: Antichi maestri pittori, 1990), pp. 21, 23, ill.

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