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“The Virgin and Child” by Master of the Clarisse

Rinaldo da Siena. The Virgin and Child, ca. 1265-75, National Gallery, London
“The Virgin and Child” by Master of the Clarisse

“The Virgin and Child” by the Master of the Clarisse was influenced by Byzantine icons and depicts the Virgin and Child, together with other Christian images. The surrounding images represent the Redemption of Man by Christ, the Annunciation and the Crucifixion. On either side is the Last Judgement, with trumpeting angels calling people from their tombs. This icon was probably made for an individual for private devotion.

The artist is named the “Clarisse Master” which refers to an anonymous painter so-called after a painting of the ‘Virgin and Child Enthroned’ now in the Convent of the Clarisse in Siena. He was active in the last third of the 13th century when the influence of Byzantine icons was strong on Sienese painting.

The Virgin and Child

Liturgy depicting Mary as powerful intercessor was brought from Greek into Latin tradition in the 8th century. With the growing popularity of the cult of the virgin came its prominence in medieval art. The term “a Madonna”, or “a Madonna with Child” is used of specific works of  Italian art. A “Madonna” may alternatively be called “Virgin” or “Our Lady”.

The earliest representations of Mother and Child were developed in the Eastern Empire. Byzantine examples show the Madonna enthroned, even wearing the closed Byzantine pearl-encrusted crown with pendants, with the Christ Child on her lap.


The Virgin and Child

  • Title:         The Virgin and Child
  • Artist:       Master of the Clarisse
  • Date:         1265-8
  • Medium:  Egg tempera on poplar
  • Dimensions:  31.4 x 19.5 cm
  • Museum:    National Gallery, London

Master of the Clarisse

  • Artist:           Master of the Clarisse
  • Active:          1274 – 1281 in Siena
  • Nationality:  Italian


“Take away the cross of Christ, and the Bible is a dark book.”
– J.C. Ryle


Photo Credit 1) Master of the Clarisse Panel [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

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