Eye Candy for Today: Girolamo dai Libri’s Madonna and Child with Saints

Madonna and Child with Saints, Girolamo dai Libri
Madonna and Child with Saints, Girolamo dai Libri

Tempera and oil on canvas; 16th century, in the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Use the zoom or download icons under the image.

To my mind, this could be titled “Madonna and Child with Laurel Tree“, so striking is the tree’s presence, painstakingly detailed and dominating the composition.

Along with that, the most notable features are the angelic faces of the Madonna and the other women, and the monumental geometric solidity of the Durer-inspired landscape.

The male “saints” look to me like carefully portrayed portraits of patrons or clergy, most interesting for the “painting within a painting” of their decorated robes. The angel trio — in the foreground but smaller than the other figures — seem almost like musical stage accompaniment, as if in an orchestra pit in front of an opera.

The peacock is rendered with Audubon-like accuracy and the distant mountains have the surreal feeling common in early landscapes in which the atmospheric distance is indicated with a distinct shift in color, but without the softening of detail most often present in reality and in later paintings.

Particularly impressive to me is the beatific face of the woman to our right, lovingly rendered and reminiscent of Botticelli’s mythic figures.

 
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