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Attributed to Pontormo (1494-1556)

The Virgin and Child c.1534-40

Oil on panel | 122.0 x 102.2 cm (support, canvas/panel/stretcher external) | RCIN 406117

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The theme of education lies at the heart of this painting. In the foreground, Christ reacts ecstatically to something learnt from the Virgin’s open book; in the middle ground an older Christ absorbs the trade of his father, Joseph; and in the background the Virgin’s mother, St Anne, stands under an arch holding a book, mid-sentence. The passage between the vignettes creates the impression of greater depth.

First recorded at Kensington Palace in 1818