The Madonna of Humility

Image credit: The National Gallery, London

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Lippo di Dalmasio painted several images of the Virgin of Humility, so-called because she is shown sitting on the ground. Here she sits in a grassy meadow holding the Christ Child on her lap. Mother and child are absorbed in each other, and the infant Christ tugs at her veil as any baby might.

The tender scene of maternal love is raised beyond the purely earthly through the inclusion of the planets. The semi-circle of real gold leaf behind the figures represents the sun; Lippo has scored the soft metal to create its rays. The Virgin’s halo is circled with 12 stars and she has at her feet a silver crescent moon. The inclusion of stars and planets recalls the Woman of the Apocalypse, mentioned in the New Testament as, ‘clothed with the sun, and the moon under her feet, and upon her head a crown of 12 stars’ (Revelation 12: 1).

The National Gallery, London



The Madonna of Humility


about 1390


Egg tempera on canvas


H 110 x W 88.2 cm

Accession number


Acquisition method

Bought, 1866

Work type



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The National Gallery, London

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