About this artwork

The impressive classical ruins frame the kneeling Virgin praying over the Christ Child. His action of sucking a finger is both natural and symbolic, for it seems he may have pricked his finger and drawn blood, a premonition of his Crucifixion. The architecture, beautifully and carefully described in perspective, probably represents a Roman Temple which, according to legend, collapsed when Christ was born. This represented the triumph of the new religion over the old. The painting was transferred from panel to canvas and extensively restored. John Ruskin, the nineteenth century critic and artist, owned it for a time, hence its popular title The Ruskin Madonna.

Updated before 2020

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