The Madonna Adoring the Christ Child ('The Ruskin Madonna')

Andrea del Verrocchio (c.1435-1488). Tempera and oil, transferred from panel c.1470.

This valuable Renaissance painting is otherwise known as The Ruskin Madonna.

Ruskin explained the painting's importance when he showed it to his friend, Prince Leopold (a son of Queen Victoria), in 1879. The occasion of Prince Leopold's visit was reported in the Sheffield and Rotherham Independent:

'Proceeding then, to show to Prince Leopold the contents of the Museum, Mr. Ruskin first drew attention to the large picture of "The Madonna and Child," painted by Verrocchio, the master of Leonardo da Vinci, "given to me in Venice by a gracious fortune, to show to the people of Sheffield" -- to whom, he explained, it was especially appropriate, since, besides being an unrivalled painter, Verrocchio was also a great worker in iron.' (Works, 30, p.


This description of Verrocchio as a 'worker in iron' helped establish the basis for the painting's location in Sheffield, and to form a link with Ruskin's target audience: the Museum was explicitly founded for the benefit of modern 'workers in iron'.

Ruskin's description of Verrocchio in these terms is a striking example of the Museum's work in breaking down barriers between the fine arts and the applied arts. It also recalls his similar grounds for admiring Botticelli, an artist who originally trained as a goldsmith.

Sale of Work

The Ruskin Madonna is no longer in the Collection.

It was sold to the The National Gallery of Scotland in 1975 (click red link to see a modern photograph of the original).

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