The Madonna col Bambino
(Madonna and Child) is a tempera and gold oil on panel (21x15 cm) by Carlo Crivelli
, dated 1480 and hosted e Pinacoteca Civica Francesco Podesti of Ancona. It is signed OPVS CAROLI CRIVELLI VENETI
. The Madonna and Child, although its size is small, fully reveals the artist's exceptional qualities.
This work, just twenty centimetres high, depicts the Madonna who, wrapped in a golden velvet coat, holds with her elegant and slender hands a little foot of the Child, reminding one of Mantegna's children.
The painting is full of symbolic references: the Child with his left hand holds a thread to which is linked a goldfinch, a bird symbolizing the Passion. The legend tells that the bird's red spot had been originated by its injury from one of the thorns of Christ's crown during the crucifixion when he tried to remove it to ease his suffering. With his right hand the Child supports an object which is difficult to read, probably a shell with a clam, a reference to the fertility of Mary, in whose womb Christ was incarnated. Even fruits making up the festoon on top and are a recurring element in Crivelli's work. They are rich in symbolism: the apple recalls to the original sin, the cucumber, associated to Jonah's biblical episode who just eat it for three days in the whale belly, is a symbol of salvation and resurrection.
In the background a minutely described landscape opens, in which characters with turbans on their heads roam, perhaps alluding to contacts that the Church of Rome had started at that time with the Church of the East. Mary’s garment is sumptuous, made up of a gold damask decorated with pearls. Maria rotates her torso making almost disappear one shoulder and generating a wavy movement by turning her face to the opposite side, toward her child. Finally, the way she holds her son's little foot with her fingertips is very refined. The Madonna and Child
was found in 1861 in a closet of the sacristy of San Francesco ad Alto, and immediately it was considered a work of wonderful preservation. The signature OPUS CAROLI CRIVELLI VENETI
is readable at the bottom, in the garden under the Virgin.