Madonna of Humility

Virgin and Child

about 1442
Giovanni di Paolo (Italian (Sienese), about 1399–1482)


61.9 x 48.9 cm (24 3/8 x 19 1/4 in.)

Accession Number


Medium or Technique

Tempera on panel

On View

Italian Renaissance Gallery E (Gallery 219)





Giovanni di Paolo preferred to emphasize religious sentiment and decorative patterning rather than the illusion of depth and three-dimensional form. In this work, the Virgin, seated on the ground to indicate her humility, cradles her child against a backdrop of strawberries and wildflowers and a sheltering screen of fruit trees. In the distance stretches a landscape of cultivated fields, stony roads, and fortified towns. Still in its original frame and in a near-perfect state of preservation, this panel exemplifies the lyrical quality of Sienese painting.


By 1909, Eugen Miller von Aichholz (b. 1835 - d. 1919), Vienna. Dr. Albert Figdor (b. 1843 - d. 1927), Vienna; September 29, 1930, posthumous Figdor sale, Cassirer, Berlin, lot 9, sold for M 135,000 to Agnew, London (stock no. 7196); 1930, sold by Agnew to the MFA for $38,625. (Accession Date: December 4, 1930)

Credit Line

Maria Antoinette Evans Fund