Madonna and Child with Saint John the Baptist

Stefano Cernotto

measurements: výška 52.3 cm, šírka 42.1 cm (obraz)
výška cm, šírka 103.0 (rám)
work type: painting
genre: religious motif
material: wood
technique: oil
institution: Slovenská národná galéria, SNG
inventory number: O 225
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Madonna with baby Jesus and baby John the Baptist are depicted behind a stone parapet with a blue sky in the background. She pulls Jesus to her body with one hand and holds his foot with the other, while he stands on the parapet and accepts a cross made of reeds from John. Innocence is emphasized by the child’s nudity. John the Baptist with open mouth talks to Jesus and stands at the end of the parapet which separates the space of the painting from the zone of spectators. The scene is situated in a landscape reduced to one plane, the sky with clouds.

Despite the motions and the frequently used special elements, such as the parapet, the figures create a two-dimensional triangle composition rather than pyramidal one. This small devotional painting was undoubtedly created for contemplation purposes. Because of its massive frame, the owner would find it difficult to hold it in his hands and look at it. If the painting was supposed to fulfill its original function, it is almost certain that it was situated in private premises.

Giovanni Bellini (1431/1436–1516) used the end of the parapet at the bottom of the painting for situating the donor. The influence of the Viennese painting, Madonna with Cherries by Tiziano (Kunsthistorisches Museum) is obvious in this depiction of Madonna. Giovanni Cariani’s work can be characterized by his dependence on the examples of others, a two-dimensional composition, the hard facets of the clothing and unclear stylizing. The Madonna with Child in the Cathedral in Bergamo is very similar to this painting. 

Zuzana Ludiková ● LUDIKOVÁ, Zuzana - BURAN, Dušan. Talianska maľba = Italian Painting. Bratislava : Slovenská národná galéria, 2013. 242 strán. ISBN 9788080591748.