Andrea Pisano, Tickling Madonna

Andrea Pisano
Original location
Giotto's bell tower, north side, second registrer, portal
White marble, ceramic, enamel pigments
Sculpture, modelling, enamelling
Height: 88 cm; Width: 83,7 cm; Thickness: 14 cm;

A marble relief of the Madonna and Child on a glazed blue ceramic tile background, carved by Andrea Pisano between 1342 and 1343. The relief was originally above the door on the northern side of the Campanile, where a footbridge led to the nave of the Cathedral. It unusually portrays Mary tickling the infant Jesus, who responds in a very human fashion by smiling and wriggling as he grasps his Mother’s arm with both hands. In the specific context of the Campanile, this image expresses the intimate union between Christ and his Mother; an example of the type of family love in the flesh and blood that Mary bestowed on the Son of God, nourishing his human nature, seen here just as any other child’s. This lunette, placed between the sacraments on the least visible side of the Campanile, the side closest to the Cathedral, conveyed in a very simple fashion the joy pervading all life saved by Christ.

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