Simone Martini - Virgin and Child, about 1325

Simone Martini (Siena, about 1284 - 1344, Avignon)

Virgin and Child, about 1325

Tempera on panel, 28.4 x 20.1 cm (11 3/16 x 7 15/16 in.) panel


Object details

Accession number



Possibly from Orvieto.
Isabella Stewart Gardner purchased from the dealer Stefano Bardini, Florence on 6 October 1897 for 6000 lire as Lippo Memmi.


Philip Hendy. Catalogue of Exhibited Paintings and Drawings (Boston, 1931), pp. 237-240. (as Lippo Memmi)
Gilbert Wendel Longstreet and Morris Carter. General Catalogue (Boston, 1935), pp. 270-71.
Stuart Preston. "Madonna and Child" in Alfred M. Frankfurter (ed.). The Gardner Collection (New York, 1946), p. 7.
Klara Steinweg. "Beitrage zu Simone Martini und seiner Werkstatt." Mitteilungen des Kunsthistorischen Institutes in Florenz 17 (1956), pp. 161-68. (as Simone Martini)
Burton B. Fredericksen and Frederico Zeri. Census of Pre-Nineteenth-Century Italian Paintings in North American Public Collections (Cambridge, 1972), p. 141. (as Lippo Memmi)
Philip Hendy. European and American Paintings in the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum (Boston, 1974), pp. 162-164. (as Lippo Memmi)
Rollin van N. Hadley. Museums Discovered: The Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum (Boston, 1981), pp. 22-23. (as Lippo Memmi)
Miklós Boskovits. "Sul trittico di Simone Martini e di Lippo Memmi." Art cristiana 713 (1986), pp. 76-77, fig. 10. (as Simone Martini)
Rollin van N. Hadley (ed.). The Letters of Bernard Berenson and Isabella Stewart Gardner 1887-1924 (Boston, 1987), p. 172. (as Lippo Memmi)
Mojmír S. Frinta. Punched Decoration on Late Medieval Panel and Miniature Painting: Part I, Catalogue Raisonné of All Punched Shapes (Prague, 1998), p. 36, fig. 23. (as Lippo Memmi)
Laurence Kanter. "Simone Martini, Madonna and Child" in Hilliard Goldfarb et al. Italian Paintings and Drawings Before 1800 in the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum. Unpublished manuscript. (Boston, 1996-2000). (as Simone Martini and possibly from Orvieto)
Alan Chong et al. (eds.) Eye of the Beholder: Masterpieces from the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum (Boston, 2003), pp. 42-43. (as Simone Martini)
Pierluigi Leone de Castris. Simone Martini (Milan, 2003), pp. 283-85, ill. (as Simone Martini and Lippo Memmi)
Christina Nielsen (ed.). Sargent on Location: Gardner's First Artist-in-Residence. Exh. cat. (Boston: Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, 2018), p. 15, ill. p. 18 (fig. 5).
Joanna Cannon. "Two works by Simone Martini in the Museo dell'Opera del Duomo" in Lucio Riccetti (ed.). Cultura artistica nel cantiere del Duomo di Orvieto (Florence, forthcoming). (as possibly painted for a Dominican nun from the Trasmondo family at S. Paolo in Orvieto)

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Set back to back against the Giotto, and in front of another chair, is Simone Martini's Virgin and Child, from about 1325.  Like the work by Giotto, it shows the bond shared by the child and his doting mother, who leans over to him, in a tacit acknowledgement of his divine status.  A small band of saintly figures appears in the lower register of the panel; on the far right side of this band is the diminutive figure of a female donor, clad in a nun's black habit.  She is kneeling in prayer, asking viewers to remember her in prayer; at the same time, she is demonstrating her position as the person responsible for commissioning this painting. By placing her own portrait so close to this one, and in a corner of the room full of other divine figures, was Gardner somehow imitating the medieval donor, encouraging us to remember her admiringly and to keep her in our prayers?