Since it’s the week of Christmas, here’s two more of my favorite works from the National Gallery that happen to be on religious subjects.
This one was done about 120 years after Giotto’s Madonna and Child (see yesterday’s post). I love this Madonna’s ethereal face, and the fact that she actually seems to be holding her wriggling child. This and many more charming Madonnas of the mid-15th century are direct descendants of Donatello’s Pazzi Madonna relief (1420s-1430s) – one of the rare cases where a sculpture had a major impact on the course of painting. (On why the Pazzi Madonna was such a big deal, see Innovators in Sculpture.)
The Christ Child
Another descendant of Donatello’s Pazzi Madonna is this exquisitely carved head of a child: until the Pazzi Madonna, the Christ Child tended to be more majestic than child-like. I’m curious to see how this sculpture looks from other angles. It’s not clear to me why the photographer for the National Gallery chose to shoot looking slightly down at the piece. (It is rather lovely hair, but the face ain’t too shabby, either.)