Giovanni di Niccolo Mansueti (Italian, Venetian, ca.1459–1527),
Sacred Conversation — Madonna, Child, Saints and Donor
, early 16th century
tempera on panel, 24 ¼ x 39 7/8 in.; 61.6 x 101.3 cm
Gift of Mrs. Elsa Koenig and Madie Koenig in memory of William Koenig, 1936.605
Sacred Conversation represents the Virgin and Child surrounded by saints, all of whom seem engaged in some kind of dialogue. An acknowledged master of this type, Mansueti created figures that appear convincingly alive as they turn to each other and make eye contact — especially the donor kneeling at left, St. John the Baptist standing behind him, and the Christ Child blessing him.
It was common Renaissance practice to show biblical figures, such as the female saint at right, in the highly decorated dress of the period. Mansueti’s use of softly modeled warm colors is representative of Venetian Renaissance painting.