The J. Paul Getty Museum

Madonna of Humility

Object Details


Madonna of Humility


Guariento di Arpo (Italian, active 1338 - 1367/1370)




Italy (Place Created)


about 1345–1350


Tempera and gold leaf on panel

Object Number:



Panel: 50.2 × 25.4 × 3.5 cm (19 3/4 × 10 × 1 3/8 in.)

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Object Description

Set against a gold background, the Madonna and Child sit enclosed in a Gothic frame with pointed arches and decorative twisting columns. In this single image, Guariento di Arpo combined three traditional pictorial representations of the Virgin. She sits on the ground nursing the infant Christ as the Madonna of Humility, a representation that emphasizes her role as the compassionate, maternal intercessor for all who pray for Christ's mercy. At the same time, her crown points to her role as the Queen of Heaven. Finally, identified by the golden sun-brooch at her breast and the incised rays that emanate from her, she personifies the apocalyptic woman from the twelfth chapter of the biblical Book of Revelation. Above, a golden aureole of celestial light encloses the blessing figure of God the Father.

early 1960s - early 1970s

Giorgio Balboni, Italian, (Bologna, Italy)

early 1970s - 1987

Private Collection (Lugano, Switzerland), sold through Marco Grassi, Inc. (New York, New York) to the J. Paul Getty Museum, 1987.

Gilding the Dome of Heaven: Gold Ground Painting in Medieval and Renaissance Italy (September 21, 1993 to July 10, 1994)
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum (Malibu), September 21, 1993 to July 10, 1994
This Old Painting: The Magic of Art Conservation (September 2 to October 9, 1994)
  • Phoenix Art Museum (Phoenix), September 1 to October 9, 1994

Longhi, Roberto. "Guariento: un'opera difficile." Paragone 8, no. 91 (July 1957), pp. 37-40, fig. 25.

D'Arcais, Francesca Flores. Guariento (Venice: Edizioni Alfieri Venezia, 1965), p. 56, fig. 29.

"Guariento di Arpo da Padova." In Dizionario enciclopedico Bolaffi dei pittori e degli incisori italiani: dall' XI al XX secolo. 11 vols. (Turin: Giulio Bolaffi, 1972-76), vol. 6 (1974), p. 203.

Longhi, Roberto. "Guariento: un'opera difficile." Paragone 8, no. 91 (July 1957). Repr. in Roberto Longhi, Ricerche sulla pittura Veneta: 1946-1969 (Florence: Sansoni, 1978), pp. 123-26, fig. 208.

"Acquisitions/1987." The J. Paul Getty Museum Journal 16 (1988), p. 160, no. 28, ill.

Jaffé, David. Summary Catalogue of European Paintings in the J. Paul Getty Museum (Los Angeles: J. Paul Getty Museum, 1997), p. 57, ill.

D'Arcais, Francesca Flores. "Profilo di Guariento." In Guariento, exh. cat. Davide Banzato, Francesca Flores d'Arcais, and Anna Maria Spiazzi, eds. (Padua and Venice: Fondazione di Risparmio di Padova e Rovigo and Marsilio, 2011), p. 36, fig. 25.

Murat, Zuleika. Guariento. Pittore di corte, maestro del naturale (Milan: Silvana Editore, 2016), pp. 39, 174, 175, ill.