The Manchester Madonna, also known as The Madonna and Child with St John and Angels, is an unfinished temperaTerm applied to any paint in which the pigment is dissolved in water and mixed with an organic gum or glue.Term applied to any paint in which the pigment is dissolved in water and mixed with an organic gum or glue. on panel painting undertaken in c. 1494 by Michelangelo (1475–1564), and probably the earliest of his surviving paintings. Why the painting was never completed is unknown.
The work, which had only recently been attributed to Michelangelo, caused much excitement when it was exhibited at the Manchester Art Treasures exhibition of 1857Exhibition of fine art art held in Manchester in 1857, the largest art exhibition ever in the UK., hence it being named the Manchester Madonna. It was acquired by the National Gallery in 1870.
The two angels on the left are represented only by the lines marking the folds in their clothes, and areas of greenish underpainting traditionally used to balance the pinkish flesh tones that would be painted over them. Similarly, the black of the Virgin Mary’s cloak has not received its finishing coats of blue.
The figures are arranged as in a marble relief, filling almost the entire panel, reflecting Michelangelo’s training as a sculptor. The Virgin in the centre is sitting on a rock, next to the child Jesus and a young John the Baptist looking out of the picture, wearing his camel skin. The scene is framed by angels on both sides.