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Lender: The Scottish National Gallery
The Virgin Adoring the Sleeping Christ Child, about 1490
Tempera and gold on canvas
48 × 31 3/4 in. (121.9 × 80.6 cm)
Framed: 74 × 52 5/8 × 8 1/4 in. (188 × 133.6 × 21 cm)
Scottish National Gallery, Edinburgh. Purchased with the aid of the Heritage Lottery Fund, the Art Fund, the Scottish Executive, the Bank of Scotland, the Royal Bank of Scotland, Sir Tom Farmer, the Dunard Fund, Mr and Mrs Kenneth Woodcock (donation made through the American Friends of the National Galleries of Scotland) and private donations 1999.
Accession number: 2014.15.1011
East Gallery (119)
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A thornless rosebush and a rocky outcropping form a hortus conclusus, or enclosed garden — a symbol of the Virgin’s purity — where the young mother kneels in adoration before the slumbering Christ Child nestled on the hems of her gown and mantle. This masterpiece of Botticelli’s later years — known as the Wemyss Madonna for its longtime past owners, the Earls of Wemyss and March — is unusual among the artist’s religious works for being painted on canvas rather than wood panel. Highly meditative and intimate in character, it may have been intended for private devotion in a domestic setting. The modern tabernacle frame is a reproduction of the type in which the painting would have originally been housed.
From the exhibiton Masterpieces from the Scottish National Gallery, November 5, 2014, to February 1, 2015.