The Wallace Collection

The Wallace Collection, A Family Collection, A National Museum, An International Treasure House
The Virgin and Child with a Columbine
  • Ascribed to Bernardino Luini (1480 - 1532)
  • The Virgin and Child with a Columbine
  • Italy
  • c.1520 - c.1530
  • Painting
  • Oil on poplar panel
  • Image size: 73.4 x 55.2 cm, with a 7mm wide strip added to edges
  • P10
  • Sixteenth Century Gallery
Further Reading
  • The seemingly contradictory notions of the wisdom and innocence of the Christ Child are here conveyed through his physical youth combined with his confident pose, twisting to read the holy book open at his feet. His mother reads over his shoulder, confirming her role as the Mother of Wisdom, and foretelling the Passion of Christ by her sorrowful expression. Both clasp the stem of a columbine, the shape of which was thought to resemble doves in flight, and was thus seen as a symbol of the Holy Ghost. The composition is typical of Luini’s contemplative, elegant style, and exists in numerous versions. The execution of the present picture, however, is not of prime quality. It was attributed to Leonardo da Vinci when bought by the 4th Marquess of Hertford for the substantial sum of 83,500 francs (about £3,340).