This beautifully executed piece is typical of the time in that it was put together in tempera on wood, though there are also some touches of gold which many artists would not have had access to. Over five hundred years have passed since the artist put this painting together, and so it is not surprising that many cracks are now evident on the surface. Researchers have concluded from its size that it was most likely created for an individual who would have hung it in their own home. It would have been used for private worship and displayed in a relatively small room. The sizes of paintings during this period would vary hugely between items such as these and then full scale frescoes that would fill entire church walls.
This is one of the simpler portraits of madonna and child completed by this artist, who addressed this theme on several occasions in a relatively short career (at least, in terms of output). Religious content dominates most of the Italian Renaissance, for several reasons. Firstly, society at this time was particularly devout and almost everyone was passionate about following the word of the Bible within the Papal States of Italy. Secondly, most of the commissions being offered were from the wealthy religious institutions who would naturally requests this type of content. Additionally, these teachings feature some extraordinarily powerful scripture that can inspire many artists, and indeed still does.
The Metropolitan Museum in New York is a highly respected venue from which to enjoy art from all manner of different regions of the world. Whilst the paintings continue all the way up to the present day, some of the true highlights from previous centuries include a folding double artwork by Jan van Eyck that was named as The Crucifixion: The Last Judgement. There are also paintings from Pieter Bruegel, another key member of Northern European art. Further afield, you will find a number of African masks as well as other antiquities from Asia as well. All-in-all, it remains one of the finest art institutions in the world and regularly adds new exhibitions in order to keep its collection fresh, even loaning items out so that others can enjoy them.