Madonna and Child with Cherubs
Madonna and Child with Cherubs, ca. 1650
Giovanni Battista Salvi, called Il Sassoferrato
Oil on Canvas
Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Joseph Kowar, 80-02
Sassoferrato was a Roman Baroque painter who is perhaps best known for his many luminous and pious images of the Virgin. Madonna and Child with Cherubs shows Mary cradling the sleeping Christ Child tenderly in her arms. Adoring putti and soft, billowy clouds surround the Divine Mother and Child, giving the painting a feeling of warmth and comfort. With his rosy cheeks and plump arms and legs, the Christ Child appears as a typical healthy baby. Mary is shown as a radiant young mother. This image endows the Virgin and Child with human qualities and celebrates the bond between mother and infant. This bond is emphasized by the manner in which the Virgin embraces the Christ Child, resting her cheek on his head. The background setting, however, with gold, celestial clouds, leaves no doubt as to the heavenly status of the figures.
The rich, warm golds and pinks, and the soothing blue of the Virgin's shawl lend peace and tranquility to the composition. Sassoferrato's clean, crisp lines, exemplified by the finely executed folds of drapery, reveal his command of classical Baroque painting techniques. This painstaking craftsmanship contributed to his renown.