The Virgin and Child

Image credit: The National Gallery, London

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This small painting is one of the earliest in the National Gallery’s collection. It was probably made in Siena – it shares many features with Sienese painting of the period – but its combination of images is rare. It is possible that it’s based on a Byzantine (Eastern Christian) painting.

The Virgin and Child are shown in a tender pose that was popular in Byzantine icon painting. The other images narrate humanity’s salvation through the birth and death of Christ. So, just above the central image, we see the Angel Gabriel announcing to the Virgin Mary that she will give birth to the Son of God. Above this is a scene of Christ’s Crucifixion.

In the spaces on either side of this arched image are the believers (on the left) ascending to heaven and the damned (on the right) who, cowering, cannot enter heaven.

The National Gallery, London



The Virgin and Child


about 1265-75


Egg tempera on wood


H 31.4 x W 19.4 cm

Accession number


Acquisition method

Acquired with the assistance of The Art Fund (with a contribution from the Wolfson Foundation), 1998

Work type



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Normally on display at

The National Gallery, London

Trafalgar Square, London, Greater London WC2N 5DN England

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