• Virgin Nursing the Christ Child (Maria Lactens)
  • c. 1500
  • Andrea Solario
  • Italian (Lombard School)
  • 1470-1524
  • tempera grassa on canvas transferred from wood panel
  • CMA 1962.16

Andrea Solario was born into a family of sculptors and architects in Milan. The only painter in the family, he came under the influence of Leonardo da Vinci (who was in Milan painting The Last Supper for the Duke of Milan) and his sfumato (smokey) technique. The warm saturated colors and the position of the Virgin in front of a ‘cloth of honor’ with a view to a distant landscape over her shoulder shows that Solario was greatly affected by contemporary Venetian artists like Giovanni Bellini during his trip to Venice in 1490. This private devotional image depicts the Virgo lactans (Virgin nursing) – the most ancient type of Virgin and child image. The subject became very popular in Italy in the 14th and 15th centuries, and many churches claimed to possess some of the Virgin’s milk as a holy relic. The theme disappeared from art after the Council of Trent (1545-1563) which forbade undue nudity in the portrayal of sacred images.

On View!