Paolo Uccello, 'Virgin and Child', c.1435-1440.

Paolo Uccello (1397-1475)

Virgin and Child, c. 1435-1440

Tempera on wood panel, 58 x 37 cm
Purchased, 1909

Uccello entered the workshop of Lorenzo Ghiberti at a young age. Little is known of his early activity. Between 1425 and 1430 he is recorded in Venice working as a mosaicist. After his return to Florence he was greatly impressed by the new artistic climate of the city. He started studying the possibilities offered by the new spatial concepts of the Renaissance, and experimented in his compositions with bold, geometrical perspectives.

This painting of the Virgin and Child clearly shows the Uccello’s intellectual interest during that period. At the centre of the imaginary space is a motionless Madonna. She emerges from a perfectly calibrated shell-shaped niche, holding back a chubby three-dimensional child who seems ready to jump towards the observer.

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