Madonna and Child with Angels
89.2 cm x 61.6 cm (35 1/8 in. x 24 1/4 in.)
Giovanni dal Ponte
(Florence, Italy, 1385 - 1437, Florence, Italy)
Medium and Support:
Tempera and tooled gold leaf on wood panel
Blanton Museum of Art, The University of Texas at Austin, Bequest of Jack G. Taylor, 1991
The devout Catholics for whom this painting was intended would have recognized this presentation of Mary as the Queen of Heaven. She wears an elaborate crown, in addition to the disc-like halo, and hovering angels honor Mary and the baby Jesus by holding an ornate cloth behind them. Jesus looks out at the viewer and raises his right hand in a gesture of blessing. In his left hand, he holds a finch, a foreshadowing of the Crucifixion that refers to a legend that this bird removed a thorn from Jesus’s crown and was marked by a drop of blood.
Based on the scale and the subject matter, it is likely that this was the central panel in an altarpiece. The unworked upper corners and sides indicate that at some point in its history an elaborate gilded frame was removed, so that the fragment preserving the central figures could be sold as a satisfying whole.