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Virgin Enthroned Nursing the Infant Jesus
This private devotional wall sculpture carved by Giovanni Antonio Amadeo and his workshop illustrates the dependant, loving relationship between the infant Christ and the mother who provided his human form with sustenance by nursing him.
The sacred representation can be related to a number of long-standing theological concepts, as well as some that were contemporary to the piece’s creation. The Madonna Lactans—shown either offering an exposed breast to the Christ Child or in the act of nursing him—was a popular Italian image from the fourteenth to the seventeenth centuries. Its popularity may correspond to periods of food shortages that created famines over large areas, as well as waves of the plague, in western Europe.
from Snite Museum of Art, Selected Works: Snite Museum of Art (Notre Dame, 2005)