Study for the Virgin and Child with Saints Cecilia and Agnes
Oil on canvas
This small <EM>bozzetto</EM> (oil sketch), in subtly differentiated shades of brown, depicts the Virgin holding the Child, who leans over to place a wreath of flowers on the head of Saint Cecilia, kneeling on the left and looking modestly downward. Kneeling on the right, symmetrically, is Saint Agnes, holding the palm of martyrdom and a lamb---her name is similar to <EM>agnus</EM>, "lamb" in Latin, so the lamb became one of her attributes---looking upward toward the Virgin and Child. The simple pyramidal composition is framed by a sort of baldachin and a curtain, implying a revelatory status for the figures. This remarkably well-preserved <EM>bozzetto</EM> is a study for a painting Francesco Vanni executed for his patron Paolo Emilio Sfondrato, the titular cardinal of the church of Saint Cecilia in Trastevere, in Rome, and a devotee of Saint Agnes.
John J. Marciari et al., Francesco Vanni: Art in Late Renaissance Siena, exh. cat. (New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Art Gallery, 2013), 2024, no. 74.