This beloved scene of Madonna and Child stands apart from its earlier counterparts in its tenderness. This Virgin Mary is holding her child who is clambering up his mother to whisper in her ear. Mary steadies herself upon a parapet inscribed with Luke 1:42 “Blessed are you among women and blessed is the fruit of your womb.” Francia has clearly tried to emulate this verse in his Virgin, who is full of youth and grace. Less legible is the book upon which Mary’s hand rests where only fragments are discernable. On the left side of the panel infant Saint John the Baptist gazes upon the holy pair in rapture. Francesco Francia, was initially apprenticed to a goldsmith, from whom he got the name Francia. He led careers as both a goldsmith and painter, as well as a medallist. This piece was donated by the Samuel H. Kress Foundation in accord with their mission to support the interpretation, preservation and teaching of European art from antiquity to the Modern Era.
-Susan Bonta, Class of 2019