Bramantino (Bartolomeo Suardi) (Italian, Milanese, active by 1490, died 1530)
Tempera on wood; Overall 13 1/2 x 11 1/4 in. (34.3 x 28.6 cm), painted surface 13 1/2 x 10 7/8 in. (34.3 x 27.6 cm)
John Stewart Kennedy Fund, 1912 (12.178.2)
The Madonna, with her voluminous robe and oversized hands, is planted in the center of the painting, while the Christ Child stands on a table set at an oblique angle to the picture plane. The setting is an extensive but barren courtyard; dark trees grow in a garden at the left, but the background is dominated by the crenellated walls of a stronghold with towers, suggesting a well-fortified hortus conclusus (enclosed garden). The planes of the unadorned buildings are defined by light and shadow and continue the perspective of the walls of the courtyard.
The most progressive painter in Milan in the early sixteenth century, Bramantino was a follower of the painter-architect Bramante. This painting, with its interestingly simplified figures and architectural perspective, seems to have been produced in the last decade of his life. Its surface is unfortunately rather damaged.