Madonna and Child

Artist: Paolo di Giovanni Fei (Italian, San Quirico, active by 1369–died 1411)

Date: 1370s

Medium: Tempera on wood, gold ground

Dimensions: Overall, with engaged frame, 34 1/4 x 23 1/4 in. (87 x 59.1 cm); painted surface 27 x 16 7/8 in. (68.6 x 42.9 cm)

Classification: Paintings

Credit Line: Bequest of George Blumenthal, 1941

Accession Number: 41.190.13


This independent panel of the Madonna nursing her child is among the masterpieces of fourteenth-century Sienese painting. It transforms a common, maternal activity into an icon of devotion and is painted with Fei's special feeling for decorative richness and technical refinement. The engaged frame is original, as are the gold-backed, glass medallions with images of the Annunciation, saints, and the head of Christ—a technique known as verre églomisé. The picture may originally have stood on an altar or hung in a domestic interior.