Virgin and Child with Saint John the Baptist

about 1500
Sandro Botticelli (Italian (Florentine), 1444 or 1445–1510)


123.8 x 84.4 cm (48 3/4 x 33 1/4 in.)

Accession Number


Medium or Technique

Tempera on panel

On View

Italian Renaissance Gallery E (Gallery 219)





Botticelli was renowned for the refinement and sweet delicacy of his figures. Patronized by the leading families of Florence, he also received important public commissions and ran a large workshop with many assistants. This painting, intended for private devotion, possesses characteristics of Botticelli’s later manner-a certain stiffness in the profiles and drapery folds, a continued elegance as in the hands of the Virgin and Saint John, and such improvised details as the free painting of roses on top of the lilies originally sketched at right.


Around 1840s, probably acquired in Florence by E. Joly de Bammeville, Paris; June 12, 1854, Joly de Bammeville sale, Christie, Manson, and Woods, London, lot 51, sold for £546 to Alexander Barker (d. 1873), London [see note 1]. William Ward, 1st Earl of Dudley (b. 1817- d. 1885), Witley Court, Worcestershire; June 25, 1892, posthumous Earl of Dudley sale, Christie, Manson, and Woods, lot 49, sold for £420 to Lesser. 1895, sold by Charles Fairfax Murray (b. 1849 - d. 1919), London, to Thos. Agnew and Sons, London (stock no. 7172); 1895, sold by Agnew to the MFA for $5000. (Accession Date: December 1, 1895)

NOTE: [1] Described in Alexander Barker's collection by G. F. Waagen, Galleries and Cabinets of Art in Great Britain (London, 1857), p. 72; and by J. A. Crowe and G. B. Cavalcaselle, A New History of Painting in Italy, vol. 2 (London, 1864), p. 427. Barker owned two paintings by Botticelli of the Virgin and Child with St. John the Baptist. The present painting was probably sold privately by Barker. The other painting was auctioned by Christie's (Barker collection sale, June 6-8, 1874, lot 91) and was erroneously listed in the catalogue with the provenance of the present painting. See Ronald Lightbown, Botticelli (Berkeley, 1978), vol. 2, cat. no. C22, variant 3.

Credit Line

Sarah Greene Timmins Fund