CIMA da Conegliano
(b. ca. 1459, Conegliano, d. 1517/18, Conegliano)

Madonna of the Orange Tree

c. 1495
Tempera and oil on panel, 212 x 139 cm
Gallerie dell'Accademia, Venice

The greatest of the admirers of Antonello da Messina was Giambattista Cima da Conegliano who maintained the poetic purity of his predecessor's language which was characterized by groups of figures restfully disposed, by the purity of his line, by the airy clarity of his light and by the Spring-like freshness of his colour. Amongst the very finest works in all Cima's serenely poetic output was the 'Madonna of the Orange Tree', originally placed in the Church of Santa Chiara on Murano.

With trusting simplicity, the Virgin, seated on an outcrop of rock before the beautiful orange tree, offers the Child to the adoration of St Louis of France and St Jerome whilst in the background St Joseph looks after the ass which has carried the Holy Family to this secluded spot which bears all the signs of having been based on the gently rolling foothills of the Alps in the Veneto. Through the transfiguring strength of the light, which is as if filtered through the clearest of crystal, the idyllic serenity of the countryside and of the sentiments achieves a supreme integrity of expression.