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Madonna and Child with Musical Angels
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Gherardo Starnina
Italian, Florence, about 1410
Tempera on panel
34 1/2 x 19 3/4 in.
82.PB.108

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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.

Detail Views

Face of madonna and frame
Face of madonna and frame