A common practice amongst early renaissance Christians, this piece is thought to be intended for personal devotion because of its small size. It is accepted as being one of the last paintings by di Francesco. Joseph’s head is the most reminiscent of the artist’s younger hand and so considered the finest part of the painting. The Virgin and the infant Christ are less natural, in awkward, stilted poses. Still, the light and vibrant colors of the intimate scene lend an endearing charm. Giovanni di Francesco is thought to have been an assistant in the more well known Sandro Botticelli’s workshop. This piece was acquired through a generous donation by the Kress Foundation in 1961. The Kress Foundation’s mission is to support individuals and institutions engaged with the preservation and education of European art.
-Susan Bonta, Class of 2019