MASOLINO da Panicale
(b. 1383, Panicale, d. 1447, Firenze)

Madonna of Humility

c. 1415
Tempera on wood, gold base, 113 x 63 cm
Galleria degli Uffizi, Florence

Mary is seated upon a cushion on the ground, following the iconographic model known as the Madonna of Humility. The Virgin is feeding her son, Jesus, offering her breast, a reason for which the iconography of the Madonna of Humility often merges into that of the Nursing Madonna, widely in use in Tuscan paintings, above all during the 14th century. Both models emphasize Mary's privileged role as intermediary between God and humanity. This subject seems particularly suited to a holy image displayed in worship and destined to a small oratory or the secondary altar of a church, as the small size of Masolino's painting would seem to suggest.

The image of the Madonna and Child is characterized by the fluid progression of the clothing, in late Gothic style and the softness of the tender skin. The majority of scholars attribute the painting to Masolino, of whom this Madonna of Humility would be one of the oldest works known to date.

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