(b. 1445, Firenze, d. 1510, Firenze)
Madonna of the Pomegranate (Madonna della Melagrana)c. 1487
Tempera on panel, diameter 143,5 cm
Galleria degli Uffizi, Florence
The picture's title is explained by the pomegranate in Mary's hand: this should be understood as symbolizing Christ's Passion, the wealth of seeds conveying the fullness of Christ's suffering. A comparison of this painting with Botticelli's earlier tondo Madonna del Magnificat reveals that the artist has now arranged the angels symmetrically, thereby avoiding the compositional difficulties of the older depiction.
The Christ Child, whose hand is raised in blessing, is lying securely in the arms of Mary, but the sad, melancholy expression on the faces of mother and child are intended to remind the observer of the torments the Son of God will suffer in the future. The angels are worshipping Mary with lilies and garlands of roses. The Rosary is a prayer that was created in its present form in the 15th century, and rapidly became widespread. The beginning of this prayer is embroidered on the left angel s stola: AVE GRAZIA PLENA (Hail Mary, full of grace).