LUINI, Bernardino
(b. 1480, Luino, d. 1532, Milano)

Madonna of the Carnation

c. 1515
Oil on panel, 44 x 40 cm
National Gallery of Art, Washington

The Madonna of the Carnation shows the Virgin with the Christ Child seated in her lap as he turns to grasp a carnation growing in a pot nearby. This may seem like an everyday gesture, but during the Renaissance a carnation symbolized either the Crucifixion or the Virgin's pure love. Thus the painting suggests that Christ, even as an infant, embraced his future sacrifice on the cross, while his mother's pensive expression implies her comprehension of what his action signifies.

© Web Gallery of Art, created by Emil Krén and Daniel Marx.