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Madonna and Child with Saints James Major and John the Evangelist, altarpiece

Sano di Pietro

European Art

Here, the Virgin and infant Christ are seated on a throne with a cloth of honor draped behind them. The saints flanking the Virgin hold symbolic objects—James Major a pilgrim’s staff and John the Evangelist his book, referring to his authorship of the Fourth Gospel and the Book of Revelation. The goldfinch Jesus holds anticipates his future sacrifice. According to one legend, the birds acquired their distinctive red spots after one plucked a thorn from Christ’s crown and was splashed with blood.
MEDIUM Tempera and gold on panel
  • Place Made: Italy
  • DATES early 1460s
    DIMENSIONS Central panel: 56 1/2 x 25 3/4 in. (143.5 x 65.4 cm) Left panel: 52 1/2 x 15 1/2 in. (133.4 x 39.4 cm) Right panel: 52 1/2 x 15 1/2 in. (133.4 x 39.4 cm) Frame: 64 3/8 x 63 1/2 in. (163.5 x 161.3 cm)  (show scale)
    COLLECTIONS European Art
    CREDIT LINE Gift of A. Augustus Healy
    MUSEUM LOCATION This item is not on view
    CAPTION Sano di Pietro (Italian, Sienese, 1405–1481). Madonna and Child with Saints James Major and John the Evangelist, altarpiece, early 1460s. Tempera and gold on panel, Central panel: 56 1/2 x 25 3/4 in. (143.5 x 65.4 cm). Brooklyn Museum, Gift of A. Augustus Healy, 06.80 (Photo: Brooklyn Museum, 06.80_SL3.jpg)
    IMAGE framed, 06.80_SL3.jpg. Brooklyn Museum photograph
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