Gesù bambino benedicente (c.1460)

Mantegna, Andrea (c.1431-1506)

Gesù bambino benedicente (The Infant Savior)
Tempera on canvas, 70.2 x 34.3 cm
National Gallery of ArtWashington

Nearly filling this vertical painting, a young, light-skinned child stands with a delicate scepter tucked into one elbow as he holds up his other hand with the first two fingers raised. The child is lit from our left, but the overall tone of the painting is shadowy and dark. His body faces us, and he looks off to our right with round, deeply shaded eyes. He has short blond hair and a tall forehead, chubby cheeks, and his bow lips are parted. Short, gold rays emanate from the sides and top of his head within a thin gold band to create a halo. He wears a thigh-length, white tunic, and more of that fabric is wrapped around his torso. His dark, burgundy-red cape falls open across his shoulders and down to his calves, and is edged with gold around the collar and down the front. A rectangular, jewel-encrusted gold clasp holds it closed at the throat. He stands with most of his weight on his left leg, to our right, on bare feet. His right hand, to our left, is raised to his chest with the first two fingers extended up. The delicate silver scepter he holds with his other hand is topped with a cross. Swirling patches of muted brick red, harvest yellow, pine green, and off white behind him could be a tapestry. A thin, dark band creates a border around the edges of the painting. (NGA)