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Madonna and Child with Saints John the Baptist and St. John the Evangelist

Vincenzo Foppa

The fresco originally stood high up over a door. The monumental arch inspired by Classical examples, with medallions on either side and a coffered barrel vault, is foreshortened from below, emphasising the scene’s illusionism. The Virgin appears to be looking out from a balcony against the open sky. The carpet ruffled by the wind, Jesus’ protruding foot and the coffers shown in perspective all contribute to the feeling of a living presence.


Religious labels

The Virgin Mary, or Maryam in Arabic, is the most revered woman in the Qur’an. Going into labour Mary cries out in protest: “Would that I had died before this, and been forgotten and out of sight!” She must answer to a community who accuses her of impiety and lack of chastity, when Jesus is the proof of her piety. Seeing her, I remember the woman, trembling, frightened, yet still obedient to God, just as I recognize the immense respect in the Qur’anic reference: Esa ibn Maryam…Jesus, son of Mary.
Ausma Zehanat Khan


The fresco alludes to the sacrifice of the body of Christ that the Mass makes present. John the Baptist, pointing to Jesus, seems to say “Here is the Lamb of God” (that is: here is the sacrificial animal), while John the Evangelist recalls that “The Word became flesh”. Mary, holding a book open with her right hand, with the other hand holds up the Word become flesh that will offer Himself in sacrifice, while the Classical arch suggests his triumph over pagan civilization, and the carpet over Islam.
Timothy Verdon

Download hi-res image TITLE Madonna and Child with Saints John the Baptist and St. John the Evangelist
AUTHOR Vincenzo Foppa
DATE 1485
OBJECT TYPE AND MATERIAL Fresco Transferred To Canvas
DIMENSIONS cm 192 x 173
Work on display
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