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The Conestabile Madonna is a small round painting, just 18 cm. in diameter, preserved in its beautiful original frame.

The painting, which dates to around 1504, takes its name from the Conestabile family of Perugia, from which Tsar Alexander II of Russia purchased it in 1869 as a gift for his wife, Marie Alexandrovna. After the tsarina’s death in 1880, the work was put on display in the Hermitage Museum.

In the center of the canvas, you can see the Madonna with the Child Jesus in her arms, leafing through a book. Mary is wearing a red robe and is wrapped in her signature blue cloak. Observe her motherly gaze as she looks down at Jesus; her expression has a melancholy feeling.  Could it be that the book she’s reading contains a prophecy of the tragic death that awaits her son? The landscape in the background, with snow-covered mountains and bare trees, is brightened by the green meadow, offering the promise of rebirth to come in spring.


An interesting fact: in 1881, when the Madonna Conestabile was transferred from the wooden panel it was originally painted on to the canvas we can see today, it was discovered that in the original version, the Madonna was looking down not at a book, but on a pomegranate, the symbol of the Passion of Christ.

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