About this artwork

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.

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  • title: The Virgin Adoring the Sleeping Christ Child
  • accession number: NG 2709
  • artist: Sandro BotticelliItalian (about 1444 - 1510)
  • depicted: The Virgin Mary
  • gallery: Scottish National Gallery(In Storage)
  • object type: Painting
  • subject: Parks and gardens Flowers Christianity Italian Renaissance Religious
  • date created: About 1485
  • measurements: 122.00 x 80.30 cm (framed: 188.00 x 107.30 x 21.00 cm)
  • credit line: 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
  • photographer: Antonia Reeve

Sandro Botticelli

Sandro Botticelli

The Florentine painter Botticelli produced some of the most celebrated pictures of the Renaissance. His 'Primavera' ('Spring') and 'Birth of Venus' (both in the Uffizi, Florence) were painted for members of the powerful Medici family. He trained as a goldsmith before joining Filippo Lippi's workshop. The ideal beauty of his graceful madonnas and mythological figures emphasises expressive and sensuous forms rather than anatomical accuracy. He left Florence briefly (1481-2) to work on frescoes in the Sistine Chapel, Rome. His later paintings, are infused with an expressive intensity, influenced by the stern preaching of Savonarola.