About this artwork

This drawing unites two traditional forms of representing the Virgin and Child. Firstly, the image of the Virgin suckling the infant Christ highlights her position as the nurturer of Christ, and through him, carer of all humanity (Virgo Lactans). Secondly, the book that she holds in her left hand is a symbol of her divine wisdom and her submission to the word and will of God (Mother of Wisdom). The freehand and ruled lines towards the margins of the sheet indicate that Farinati gave some thought as to how best to frame the group. This may imply that the drawing was a preparatory study for a painting or print, although no corresponding work is known.

Paolo Farinati

Paolo Farinati

Farinati was born in Verona and became the city’s leading painter in the later part of the sixteenth century after his compatriot Paolo Veronese moved to Venice in the early 1550s. Farinati was not only a successful painter, but also a prolific and accomplished draughtsman. According to Vasari, Farinati was a pupil of Nicolò Giolfino, who encouraged him to concentrate on line as opposed to colour. He absorbed the influences of the fashionable Mannerist style of his youth, and the powerful figure style of Michelangelo. His work reflected this throughout his career. Farinati admired Veronese’s strong use of chiaroscuro and coarse brushwork, and incorporated these into his own paintings.