(Italian, Marche, 1360/65–1439)
Tempera and gold on wood panel
Framed: 191.5 x 99 x 11 cm (75 3/8 x 39 x 4 5/16 in.); Unframed: 181.5 x 88.6 cm (71 7/16 x 34 7/8 in.)
Holden Collection 1916.795
The Madonna is seated humbly on the ground nursing her child. Saint George and the Archangels Gabriel and Michael kneel nearby, while Christ’s disciples appear radiating from the Madonna’s halo in the form of stars. In contrast with the Virgin’s purity, Eve lies in the lower part of the painting. Coaxed by the serpent, she raises the forbidden fruit to her mouth, thus condemning humankind through her original sin. The juxtaposition of these two images affirms the Incarnation and the role of Christ and the Virgin in the redemption story. The deep scratches on the surface of the panel, especially on the serpent’s face and Eve’s wrist, likely resulted from a zealous Christian’s symbolic attack on the power of evil. The artist, Olivuccio di Ciccarello, is known to have been active in the Marche in central Italy. Little is known of his life except that he was an important and prolific painter in Ancona, where he died. His paintings were formerly attributed to Carlo da Camerino, an apparently nonexistent artist, on the basis of a mistaken reading of his signature on a crucifix.
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