Madonna and Child
56.4 cm x 38.4 cm (22 3/16 in. x 15 1/8 in.)
Circle of Michelino da Besozzo
(1370(?) - circa 1450)
Medium and Support:
Tempera with tooled gold leaf on wood panel
Blanton Museum of Art, The University of Texas at Austin, The Suida-Manning Collection, 2017
Fashionable at the established courts of Europe around 1400, closely associated with miniature painting, the International Gothic style was at once traditional in its decorative elegance and more progressive in its emergent naturalism. In Milan, the leading figure of this style was Michelino da Besozzo, whose work is distinguished by an almost arbitrarily lyrical line and poignant characterization.
The subject of the present picture is a favorite International Gothic type, the Madonna of Humility, in which a Virgin of appealing human aspect sits upon a cushion or the ground itself. This subject is interpreted with something of the suave rhythms and affecting expression of Michelino’s works. At the same time, the figures are more regular in construction, insistent in modeling, and literal in address than his. This same combination of characteristics, and probably the identical hand, are apparent in an important processional standard in Milan’s Museo del Duomo that can be dated 1429. Either the two pictures correspond to a later stage of Michelino’s development or, more likely, the style of a follower. Certainly they bridge the International Gothic at its purest and the earliest works of the school’s next great master, Vincenzo Foppa.