The so-called ‘Greek Madonna’ by Giovanni Bellini takes its nickname from the Greek μήτηρ Θεού, seen at the top of a badly preserved background. The Christ child looks very sad, resting his feet on a windowsill and holding a fruit in which certainly will be found sug- gestive symbols of His future Passion. This painting is one of the first to enter the collection of the Pinacoteca di Brera and comes from the Ducal Palace in Venice, where it was probably made for a court of scriptural law.
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“In a renaissance world, where politics, culture and religion were overwhelmingly male, the Virgin Mary is always portrayed as the Ultimate Good Girl rather than any ordinary woman. Yet, under the brush of male painters like Bellini, she brings alive two key emotional experiences that many could and would have shared: the joy of motherhood and the eviscerating grief of losing a child. In this way, through the medium of art, Mary spoke directly to all women.”