Orazio Gentileschi (Pisa 1563 - London 1639)
Madonna and Child
Oil on canvas
113 x 91 cm
Neither the Virgin nor the infant Jesus look towards the viewer in Orazio Gentileschi’s painting: the whole scene is contained within the canvas, and the essence of the work lies in the interplay of glances and contacts between mother and son. The ritual solemnity pervading depictions of the Virgin and Child is absent: except for the golden edge of the halo, it might be taken for a secular subject, depicting a moment of family intimacy. This effect is also secured by the coloring, which rests on a dull ground of ochre and brown tones: the painting then kindles with light through the flesh tones of mother and child, as well as in the threefold division of pure colors (red, yellow and blue) in their garments.
The naturalness of the scene and the effects of light, close to the aesthetic introduced by Caravaggio, bear witness to how deeply Gentileschi had grasped the innovative significance of the work of his Lombard colleague, whom he had direct contacts with in his years in Rome.