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Work Madonna with the Green Cushion

Department of Paintings: Italian painting

Madonna of the Green Cushion

© 2005 RMN / Jean-Gilles Berizzi

Italian painting

Cécile Scailliérez

At the beginning of the 17th century this painting was found in the Cordelier (Franciscan) convent in Blois, but its previous history is unknown. It probably dates to the period of Solario's stay in France (1507-1510) in the service of Georges d'Amboise; it is possible, however, that the work was painted for the latter's nephew, Charles II d'Amboise, governor of the Duchy of Milan, upon the artist's return to Italy.

A soothing motif

Madonna with the Green Cushion, a devotional image of the Virgin nursing Jesus, has been so called since the 17th century due to the motif of the green cushion placed on a marble plinth in the foreground. This detail, perfectly integrated here within the holy group, is indeed remarkable; with its soft, padded comfort it truly accompanies this scene of family tenderness and well-being.

Profound knowledge of the art of Leonardo

Very close stylistically to Lamentation over the Dead Christ, Madonna with the Green Cushion attests with equal subtlety to the intelligent, discreet influence of Leonardo da Vinci. The relationship established between the two figures, the dialogue of their respective gazes, the complicity of their postures all display - albeit in a more familiar and less meditative key - the same maternal devotion present in Leonardo's The Virgin with St. Anne.
Furthermore, Solario's drawings that come closest in composition to Madonna with the Green Cushion are interpretations of the motif of the Virgin leaning over the child astride a sheep in Leonardo's work.

Solario's style

Solario's salient characteristics are the velvety softness of the rendering of the skin, the shimmering saturation of the colors, and the naturalism of the landscape elements.
Round forms and a feeling of natural ease are combined in this firm yet gentle work. It is one of Solario's masterpieces, painted either during his stay in France from 1507 to 1510 or just after his return to Italy. It is not known who commissioned the work, but in the 17th century it was found in the Cordeliers convent in Blois, where Marie de Médicis purchased it for a large sum.

Technical description

  • Andrea SOLARIO (Milan?, c. 1465 - Milan, 1524)

    Madonna of the Green Cushion

  • Oil on poplar

    H. 0.59 m; W. 0.47 m

  • Collection of Louis XV (acquired from the prince de Carignan in 1742–43)

    INV. 673

  • Paintings

    Denon wing
    1st floor
    Grande Galerie
    Room 710, 712, 716

Practical information

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Additional information about the work

Signed on the marble plinth lower right: ANDREAS DE SOLARIO FE