'The Madonna and Child', after Lippi
Charles Fairfax Murray
Date Made/Found: about 1876-1880
, British, 1849 - 1919
, Italian, circa 1406 - 1469
Material and Medium: watercolour and bodycolour on paper
Dimensions: Support: 350 x 248mm
Mount: 455 x 317mm
Frame: 573 × 471 × 26mm
Accession Number: CGSG00292
Lippi's 'Madonna and Child' was commissioned by Florence's ruling Medici family for their private chapel in 1465. Ruskin thought that it was 'one of the greatest works ever produced by hand of man.' He admired the 'deceptive reality' of the figures set against the window and was interested by the figures’ rather ugly faces, which he felt asked the viewer 'consider [the] dignity and simplicity of expression more than beauty of feature.'
Ruskin suggested that artists would learn by copying the painting, but this copy failed to impress him. He wrote that Murray ‘has been quite unable to do justice to the exquisite fineness of draughtsmanship… or to give to colours… the charm … they receive in the original.' Instead, Ruskin said to look at it alongside a photograph. That way Lippi's draughtsmanship could be admired in the photograph, whilst Murray’s copy would give some idea of the colour, light and shadow.