dark image of head and upper torso of Madonna with hair in braided updo, holding Christ Child near her PL shoulder; Christ Child has PL hand raised, with index finger pointing; reddish-brown ground with grey figures

Madonna and Child, c. 1600-1601

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Recently rediscovered, this dark, quiet image is a rare early drawing by the Bolognese painter Guido Reni. One of the most celebrated masters of devotional art in the 17th century, Reni created countless images of saints, the Madonna, and Christ that have resonated with the faithful for centuries. This drawing appears to be an early experiment in a genre he would come to define. The Parmigianinesque composition reflects Reni’s deep admiration of the Mannerist artist. (It references a chiaroscuro woodcut by Antonio da Trento after a Parmiginino design.) To achieve the shimmering, jewellike quality, Reni tinted the paper brown and applied a deeper brown oil paint to the surface as a ground. He then worked the figures up from dark to light, achieving an intimate yet powerful devotional image.

Details
Title
Madonna and Child
Artist Life
(Bologna), 1575–1642
Role
Artist
Accession Number
2011.37.2
Provenance
William Russell (1800-1884) Lugt 2648 (stamp lower right corner), London. Major A. Menz (until 1961; sold November 15, to Colnaghi); [Colnaghi, London, 1961-62; sold May 30, to Hofer]; Philip and Frances Hofer, Cambridge, Mass. (1962-'her d.1978). Sale, unknown auction house, New Jersey, 2010', to French; [Thomas French Fine Art, Fair Lawn, Ohio, 2010-2011]
Curator Approved

This record is from historic documentation and may not have been reviewed by a curator, so may be inaccurate or incomplete. Our records are frequently revised and enhanced. If you notice a mistake or have additional information about this object, please email collectionsdata@artsmia.org.

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dark image of head and upper torso of Madonna with hair in braided updo, holding Christ Child near her PL shoulder; Christ Child has PL hand raised, with index finger pointing; reddish-brown ground with grey figures