Collection Online

Madonna and Child
(early 15th century)

oil, tempera and gold leaf on wood panel
121.7 × 67.3 cm
Accession Number
International Painting
Credit Line
National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne
Bequest of Howard Spensley, 1939
Gallery location
14th - 16th Century Gallery - Painting & Decorative Arts
Level 1, NGV International
Byzantine icons of the Mother of God were prized in medieval and early Renaissance Italy, where they were made a focus of Marian devotions. Over time Italian artists developed touching variations of their own on the venerated subject of the Virgin and Child. The Florentine painter Giotto (1266-/7–1337), ushered in a new and graceful Gothic naturalism, later adopted by Agnolo Gaddi and Giovanni Toscani. The inclusion of ‘pseudo-kufic’ script in decorative bands and in haloes is characteristic of Toscani’s devotional paintings, and reflects the popular belief that Medieval Middle-Eastern scripts were the same as those used in Jesus’s time and by early Christians.