Madonna of Humility is a marble sculpture depicting the Virgin Mary holding her child Jesus closely to her chest. Created in 1400 by Jacopo della Quercia, this piece was one of many Quercia would become known for. After being trained by his father, Piero d’Angelo, and ready to begin making his own work. Quercia was influenced by Nicola Pisano and Arnolfo di Cambio whose art work adorned the Siena Cathedral. Quercia’s early works were in the Gothic manner and he later transitioned to the highly realistic style of the Italian Renaissance.
Quercia was not the first to render the “Madonna of Humility” image; it appears in many artworks from Europe during the Renaissance. Even though there are variations on how the Madonna is positioned with the child in these works, the projected feeling to the viewer remains one of love between mother and child. Pieces such as Madonna of Humility were created heralded a new age coming to Europe in not only art, but culture as well.
Quercia's work is on display at the National Gallery of Art along with many other sculptures and paintings of the era featuring the Madonna and child. Viewing the differences in the artistic rendering of the subject makes a visit worthwhile.
NGA website: http://www.nga.gov/content/ngaweb.html