(b. ca. 1459, Firenze, d. 1537, Firenze)

Madonna and Child with a Pomegranate

Oil on panel, 16,5 x 13,4 cm
National Gallery of Art, Washington

The Madonna and Christ Child appear in a window, and the child is standing on the balustrade below it. She is holding a pomegranate that has been cut open out to him, and the boy has taken some of it, for he is showing Mary red pearls of fruit that he is holding in his clumsy child's hand. Mary appears melancholy, as if she knows about the future Passion of her son, symbolized by the pomegranate.

This is one of the first Florentine panel paintings known today to have been produced with a paint medium containing oil for colour pigments. This technique first appeared in northern painting in the first half of the 15th century and rapidly spread there. Italian developed the technique later. The panel is very small by Italian standards, yet not at all an unusual format in Flemish painting. The Christ Child as well, with his fat, tummy overlong torso and skinny little arms, refutes the widespread generally more rounded Florentine type of depiction.

This Madonna is modeled after one by Leonardo; in fact, the painting was formerly thought to be an early work by Leonardo.