European Art: 14th-16th Centuries

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Madonna and Child with Saint John the Baptist, c. 1460

Antoniazzo Romano

Italian, c. 1452-1508-9
Oil and gold leaf on panel
18-3/4 x 13-1/8 in. (47.6 x 33.3 cm)
The Norton Simon Foundation
F.1965.1.057.P
© 2012 The Norton Simon Foundation

Not on view

Antoniazzo was the leading Roman painter during the second half of the 15th century. His activity coincided with Eternal City’s renewal as the center of the Church and, by extension, as a dynamic locus of art production. Antoniazzo was inspired by such progressive Tuscan artists as Benozzo Gozzoli and Domenico Ghirlandaio, who were posted in Rome on Vatican commissions, as well as the example of Melozzo da Forlì, with whom he worked on papal projects for Sixtus IV. As a result, the artist developed a personal style that combined the innovative with the archaic. Each holy figure in this painting, carefully drawn and modeled, possesses a natural appearance and solidity of form. Through judicious use of overlap and foreshortening, Antoniazzo gives coherence to their spatial relationship. The decorative quality of his line is particularly notable in the beautifully modeled, if somber, face of the Virgin. Nevertheless, Antoniazzo continued to include medieval features in his paintings. Originally the entire background was painted in gold leaf, as is the case with many of the paintings in this room. Now, only the red bole ground remains. Though such a pictorial application befitted the miraculous image, it was out of step with advances in painting at this late date.

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