European Art: 14th-16th Centuries

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Madonna and Child, c. 1340

Paolo Veneziano

Italian, active 1333-1358
Tempera and gold leaf on panel
43-5/8 x 24-3/8 in. (110.8 x 61.9 cm)
The Norton Simon Foundation
F.1973.24.P
© The Norton Simon Foundation

On view

Paolo Veneziano's Madonna and Child marries the Venetian aesthetic—based on color and its unifying, descriptive aspect—with the reserved, hieratic Byzantine style. The Christ Child, looking closely at His mother, holds a palm branch, symbolizing His future entry into Jerusalem and subsequent death. The goldfinch, perched on the Madonna’s hand, is a bird associated with thorns and thistles and so is a further allusion to the Passion of Christ. The artist has woven these solemn reminders of Christ’s sacrifice into a visually rich web of color and line.

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