Madonna and Child with St. John the Baptist and the Lamb

Bernardino Luini (Italian, 1481-1532)

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Like many of Bernardino Luini's works, this one is indebted to Leonardo da Vinci. The composition is a reprise of Leonardo's Virgin of the Rocks. The influence of the famous master is also evident in the features of the gently smiling Madonna, the view of a distant landscape, and in the adoption of a dark, smoky palette.

Possibly Duke Francesco (II) Maria Sforza [1495-1535], Milan, Italy.{1} Count Istvan Ambrózy-Migazzy [1869-1933], Hungary.{2} (E. and A. Silberman Galleries, Budapest, Hungary, and Vienna, Austia, later New York, New York;{3} Dr. George Henry Alexander Clowes, Indianapolis, Indiana, by 1937; Clowes Fund Collection, Indianapolis, Indiana, since 1958, and on long-term loan to the Indianapolis Museum of Art since 1971; given to the Indianapolis Museum of Art at Newfields in 2018.

{1} A coat-of-arms on the verso of the panel has been linked by some scholars to the Sforza family because it features the “biscione,” a blue snake devouring a human. Others, like Mark Roskill, have questioned this, since the other elements of the coat-of-arms (a white eagle and 3 fleurs-de-lis) cannot be traced to a particular line of this lineage.
{2} Ambrózy-Migazzy is a surname for which there are multiple spellings. Count Istvan, a naturalist and founder of the Mlyňany Arboretum, today in Slovakia, was likely only a minor collector of art, although paintings now at the New Orleans Museum Art, New Orleans, Louisiana (61.73) and the Toldedo Museum of Art, Toledo, Ohio (36.21) are also from his collection;
{3} Dr. G.H.A. Clowes purchased several paintings from Elkan and Abris Silberman which derived from central European collections.

Object Information

Bernardino Luini (Italian, 1481-1532)
creation date
about 1520
oil on panel
32 x 23 in. (panel)
approximately 45-3/8 x 36 x 3-1/2 in. (framed)
mark descriptions
Coat-of-Arms with biscione, verso: [blue snake devouring a human, white eagle, three fleurs-de-lis]
accession number
credit line
The Clowes Collection
Public Domain
European Painting and Sculpture Before 1800

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