Image Resources | Currently on View in Medieval Renaissance Gallery

Madonna and Child

Barbara Longhi (Italian, 1552-1648)


This small Madonna is one of the few known works by Barbara Longhi. Daughter of the Mannerist painter Luca Longhi, her work was praised by contemporaries, including Giorgio Vasari, for its "purity of line and soft brilliance of color."

The subject of the reading Virgin was a popular one in the Renaissance. It exalts a feminine ideal, embodied by the Virgin, in which the ability to read is exercised in the service of prayer. On another level, the book held aloft by the Virgin can be seen as a symbol of the Word. This meaning is reinforced by the figure of the infant Christ, resting his arm against the globe of the world and raising his hand in blessing.

Mrs. Marshall Field (Delia Caton Field) [1859-1937], Chicago and Washington, D.C., at an unknown date; by inheritance to her niece, Mrs. Albert J. (Catherine) Beveridge [1881-1970], Washington, D.C. and Indianapolis, by 1938;{1} given to the John Herron Art Institute, now Indianapolis Museum of Art, in 1938 (38.6).

{1}See the biography of Catherine Eddy Beveridge presented in the entry describing her papers, now at the Newberry Library, Chicago.

Object Information

artist
Barbara Longhi (Italian, 1552-1648)
creation date
about 1580-1585
materials
oil on canvas
dimensions
17-1/4 x 11-3/8 in.
28 x 23 in. (framed)
accession number
38.6
credit line
Gift of Mrs. Albert J. Beveridge
copyright
Public Domain
collection
European Painting and Sculpture to 1945
colors