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'.

  • title: The Virgin Adoring the Christ Child ('The Ruskin Madonna')
  • accession number: NG 2338
  • artist: Unknown
  • attributed to: Andrea del VerrocchioItalian (about 1435 - 1488)
  • depicted: The Virgin Mary
  • gallery: In Storage
  • object type: Painting
  • subject: Ruins Children Italian Renaissance Religious
  • materials: Tempera and oil on canvas, transferred from panel
  • date created: About 1470
  • measurements: 106.70 x 76.30 cm (framed: 141.50 x 110.50 x 10.50 cm)
  • credit line: Purchased with the aid of the Art Fund and the Pilgrim Trust 1975

Andrea del Verrocchio

Andrea del Verrocchio

Verrocchio was a highly skilled Florentine painter, goldsmith and sculptor; Leonardo da Vinci was his most famous apprentice. Leonardo is said to have painted an angel in Verrocchio's 'Baptism of Christ' (Uffizi, Florence) which was so beautiful it prompted Verrocchio to retire from painting and concentrate on sculpture. His most famous sculpture includes the monument of Bartolommeo Colleone on horeseback in Venice, and the sphere on top of the lantern crowning the dome of Florence cathedral. There are few paintings attributed firmly to him, but he strongly influenced the next generation of Florentine painters, including Leonardo and Domenico Ghirlandaio.