Giovanni d'Alemagna (working in Venice and Padua from 1437 to 1450) and Antonio Vivarini (Venice 1420 cc-Venice before 1484) - inv. 1570
The Virgin holds the standing Child on her knee as she sits on a throne. It is surrounded by a meadow of flowers, an allusion to the hortus conclusus, the enclosed garden symbolising virginal purity, which probably continued in the other panels of a larger work. Monumental and imposing, this painting was possibly the central panel of a polyptych with Saint Louis of Toulouse, now at Louvre, and Saint Ambrose and Saint Nicholas now in Venice (Seminario Patriarcale).
Together with Jacopo Bellini, Antonio Vivarini led a renewal in Venetian painting during the mid-15th century and, combining tradition and innovation, produced a large number of polyptychs which were exported along the Adriatic coast. The head of a family workshop, Antonio worked for many years with his brother-in-law, of German origin, called Giovanni d’Alemagna. In 1447, the two artists moved to Padua, where they saw the new Renaissance works by Squarcione and especially by Donatello.
Datable to 1449-1450, this beautiful painting is one of their best collaborations. Late Gothic elements coexist harmoniously with an already Renaissance setting: the throne, for example, lightened by Gothic tracery has a solid architectural structure. Thanks to the tonal contrasts, the body of Jesus has a sculptural quality, almost as though it was taken from the antique, a debt to Donatello’s works in Padua, while the faces of the angels have a roundness and softness that recall Jacopo Bellini.