Lorenzo di Bicci

Madonna and Child, c. 1375

The Virgin is shown seated on a cushion on the ground with the Christ Child on her lap in what is an extraordinarily affectionate exchange. The Virgin's pose and the fact that the rendering of the setting is so plain – consisting basically of the cushion and of a line dividing the floor from the back wall – are typical features of the iconography known as the Madonna of Humility which focused on her natural, humble aspect. The artist who painted the picture has been identified as Lorenzo di Bicci, the founder of a dynasty of artists who worked in Florence from the second half of the 14th century almost to the end of the 15th. Testifying to the transition in Florence from the tradition of Giotto to the International Gothic style, Lorenzo is remarkable for the richness of his palette and the sophistication of his decoration, as we can see here in the Christ Child's tunic which is punched with the precision of a goldsmith.