Madonna and Child

Cenni di Francesco di Ser Cennicirca 1410–1415

Spencer Museum of Art

Spencer Museum of Art

Depictions of the Madonna and Child, or the Virgin Mary with her infant son Jesus, are one of the most common representations in Christian art. In this painting the child’s chubby right hand forms a gesture of benediction, or blessing. His raised thumb, index and middle fingers also symbolize the Trinity. Jesus holds a goldfinch in his left hand. Goldfinches eat the seeds of thistles, and are therefore associated with the crown of thorns he wears during the crucifixion. The brilliant red coloring on the head of goldfinches is also said to represent the drops of blood on Jesus’ pierced brow. In this image, the goldfinch serves as a reminder of this infant’s eventual suffering and death.

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  • Title: Madonna and Child
  • Creator: Cenni di Francesco di Ser Cenni
  • Date Created: circa 1410–1415
  • Physical Dimensions: Canvas/Support Dimensions: 72.4 x 55.3 cm, Canvas/Support Dimensions: 28 1/2 x 21 3/4 in, Frame Dimensions: 35 3/4 x 27 13/16 in
  • Type: paintings
  • Medium: tempera, gold leaf on panel