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  • Sandro Botticelli
The Virgin Adoring the Sleeping Christ Child About 1485


Botticelli's composition, inspired by the work of Filippo Lippi, is unusual in two respects: canvas paintings were still uncommon at this time and the Christ Child was rarely shown asleep. This variation could be interpreted as a reminder of Christ's death. His future suffering for Mankind may also be symbolised by the detailed plants and fruits. The red strawberries, for example, may refer to Christ's blood. They also complement the beautiful rose bower which forms an 'enclosed garden', a symbol of the Virgin derived from the Old Testament Song of Solomon. The painting was probably designed for a domestic setting.

Glossary Open


The arrangement of different elements in a work of art.


The representation of subjects or ideas by use of a device or motif to create underlying meaning. A literary and artistic movement that originated in France and spread through much of Europe in the late 19th century. There was no consistent style but rather an appeal to the idea of the artist as mystic or visionary and the desire to express a world beyond superficial appearances.

Composition, Symbolism


  • Acc. No. NG 2709
  • Medium Tempera and gold on canvas
  • Size 122.00 x 80.30 cm (framed: 188.00 x 107.30 x 21.00 cm)
  • Credit Purchased with the aid of the Heritage Lottery Fund, the Art Fund, the Scottish Executive, the Bank of Scotland, the Royal Bank of Scotland, Sir Tom Farmer, the Dunard Fund, Mr and Mrs Kenneth Woodcock (donation made through the American Friends of the National Galleries of Scotland) and private donations 1999