This painting is one of many images of the Virgin and Child by Bellini's workshop and is often called 'The Madonna of the Pomegranate'. The fruit held by the Virgin is not identified with certainty, but could well be a pomegranate, symbol of the Passion. Fruit such as apples and pears appear in many Bellini paintings of the Virgin and Child. The green cloth of honour, the landscape and the parapet are also common features of Bellini's Madonnas. The pattern was also adopted by Cima. This 'Virgin and Child' is closely related to a full-length version made by Bellini, now lost but reflected in a painting by Tacconi. It is likely that the composition was developed for the larger format because in this version the knees do not fit comfortably into the composition.


  • Title: The Virgin and Child
  • Creator: Workshop of Giovanni Bellini
  • Date Created: probably 1480-90
  • Physical Dimensions: 90.8 x 64.8 cm
  • Type: Painting
  • Medium: Oil, probably with egg tempera, on poplar
  • School: Italian (Venetian)
  • More Info: Explore the National Gallery’s paintings online
  • Inventory number: NG280
  • Artist Dates: active about 1459; died 1516
  • Artist Biography: Bellini was one of the most influential Venetian artists. He lived and worked in Venice all his life; his career spanned 65 years. He is celebrated for his pioneering portrayal of natural light, seen in such works as 'The Agony in the Garden', for his tender and graceful pictures of the Virgin and for his altarpieces. Dürer, in Venice in about 1506, wrote that Giovanni 'is very old and yet he is the best painter of all'.Giovanni Bellini was born into the leading dynasty of Venetian painters. He seems to have been the younger brother of Gentile Bellini. His development was first shaped by his father, Jacopo. His brother-in-law Andrea Mantegna also influenced early works, such as 'The Blood of the Redeemer' and 'The Agony in the Garden'. The visit of Antonello da Messina to Venice in 1475-6 may also have influenced him.Many signed paintings survive, as well as a number of workshop productions, including works on this screen. 'The Assassination of Saint Peter Martyr' is now thought to be by him rather than by his workshop. In his old age Bellini executed a few secular narrative paintings, of which the greatest is 'The Feast of the Gods', later modified by Titian.
  • Acquisition Credit: Bought, 1855

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