PISANO, Andrea
(b. ca. 1290, Pontedera, d. ca. 1348, Orvieto)

Nursing Madonna (Madonna del Latte)

Marble, height 89 cm
Museo Nazionale di San Matteo, Pisa

Around 1341 Andrea Pisano returned to Pisa, where a series of fine sculptures may be attributed to him: an equestrian relief of St Martin (San Martino, Pisa), the Virgin Suckling the Infant Christ (Museo Nazionale di San Matteo, Pisa), a group of statues with the Virgin and Child, St Peter, and St John the Baptist (Santa Maria della Spina, Pisa) and the over life-size statue of the Virgin and Child over the façade of Pisa Cathedral.

Vasari and subsequent writers considered these sculptures, and especially also a Virgin and Child in Orvieto (Museo dell'Opera del Duomo, Orvieto), to be early works by Andrea's son Nino Pisano, but later scholars, identified them as late works by Andrea; the latter's figures are characterized by quiet balance, relaxed bearing, and harmonious proportions, and they show an increasing correspondence to the Classical canon, whereas Nino in his signed statue of the Virgin and Child in Santa Maria Novella, Florence, created a figure 'that rises from the bottom to the top in contradiction of the laws of gravity'. These fundamental differences of approach tend to disprove the idea that father and son worked together on the sculptures, and it seems more likely that Andrea shared a workshop with his sons Nino and Tommaso in a sort of family business, each receiving independent commissions.

The Madonna del Latte comes from the church of Santa Maria della Spina, Pisa where now the original is replaced with a copy.

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