Madonna and Child with Musical Angels

Object Details


Madonna and Child with Musical Angels


Gherardo Starnina (Master of the Bambino Vispo) (Italian (Florentine), active 1378 - about 1413)




about 1410


Tempera and gold leaf on panel


87.6 x 50.2 cm (34 1/2 x 19 3/4 in.)

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These elegant figures dressed in colorful robes, some flecked with gold, are characteristic of the International Gothic style of the early 1400s. Gherardo Starnina, formerly known as the "Master of the Bambino Vispo"(Master of the Lively Child), painted this panel in Florence, where he settled after a sojourn in Spain. His nickname refers to his penchant for painting Madonnas with a squirming or lively Christ Child, as in this painting.

The Madonna sits on an ornate throne surrounded by angels, some in attitudes of worship, others playing musical instruments and singing. Christ sits on her lap, twisting his body in order to touch the lilies, a symbol of purity offered by an angel. In his left hand he holds a goldfinch, alluding to his Crucifixion.

Starnina's scene is rich in detail, color, and materials. Gold leaf is used for the haloes, the trim of clothing and furniture, and the background. The gold of the Virgin's crown and the angel's garments and haloes are punchmarked to create lavish designs. Starnina delighted in portraying sumptuous effects, seen in the brocade covering the chair and Mary's gown, the simulated marble footstool, and the decoratively patterned floor.

by 1927 - 1928

Marczell de Nemes von Janoshaza, 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, first viscount Rothermere, 1868 - 1940 (Stody Lodge, Norfolk, England), by inheritance to Esmond Cecil Harmsworth Rothermere, 1940.

1940 - 1946

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

1946 -

Alfred Scharf (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 (1930) (Cat. 72)
  • Royal Academy of Arts (London), 1930
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    Audio: Madonna and Child With Musical Angels / Cardinal Mahony