PESELLINO
(b. ca. 1422, Firenze, d. 1457, Firenze)

Madonna with Child

1450s
Tempera on wood, 60 x 36 cm
Christian Museum, Esztergom

Pesellino (Francesco di Stefano) painted this composition at least twice. It shows the Madonna on a splendidly carved marble throne and the little Jesus in his mother's lap playing with a goldfinch. One of these panels found its way to the Isabella Gardner Museum in Boston, the other came into the possession of the Esztergom Museum. The design of the two paintings is almost identical, the only noteworthy difference can perhaps be observed in the execution of the Virgin's right hand. Judging from this difference the Esztergom version is probably the earlier version of the two.

The meditative, somewhat melancholy facial expression of the Virgin indicates a religious ideal which will reach its artistic culmination in the works of Fra Filippo Lippi, and still later in the works of Botticelli. The goldfinch which the Child Jesus clutches in his hand is a symbol of his suffering and death, and the brooding look of the Mother already suggests the future agony of the Saviour.