The Virgin Adoring the Sleeping Christ Child

The Virgin Adoring the Sleeping Christ Child, 1490, Botticelli, National Gallery of Scotland, Edinbu
The Virgin Adoring the Sleeping Christ Child, 1490, Botticelli, National Gallery of Scotland, Edinbu

Botticelli's composition, inspired by the work of Filippo Lippi, is unusual in two respects: canvas paintings were still uncommon at this time and the Christ Child was rarely shown asleep. This variation could be interpreted as a reminder of Christ's death. His future suffering for Mankind may also be symbolised by the detailed plants and fruits. The red strawberries, for example, may refer to Christ's blood. They also complement the beautiful rose bower which forms an 'enclosed garden', a symbol of the Virgin derived from the Old Testament Song of Solomon. The painting was probably designed for a domestic setting.

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