Madonna and Child with St. John the Baptist


Bacchiacca ( Italian, 1494 - 1557 )

about 1525
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General Description

This devotional panel by Bacchiacca, a leading artist at the court of the Medici in Florence, has the quintessential elements of Mannerism, an artistic style that originated in early 16th century Italy which valued artistic invention and elegance over the imitation of nature. Here, the proportions of the Virgin have been gracefully elongated and the colors of her clothes are especially vivid. Her carefully looped locks of hair emerge from a turban of deep green and raspberry red, contrasting with the pale, almost marble-like tint of her skin. To the left, a goldfinch drinks water pouring out of the rockface. While the exquisite rendering of the crystal cup serves as an expression of the artist’s virtuosity, the bird foreshadows Christ’s Passion, as a goldfinch was thought to have been splattered by Christ’s blood as he carried the cross on his way to Calvary.

Excerpt from

Julien Domercq, Label text (1975.72), 2020

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