This small panel painted in oil (33 x 25 cm) by Correggio around the year 1524 and which is now kept in the National Gallery of London for many scholars is a benchmark for the type of religious image that became popular in the art of the 17th century in Europe, something that is largely due to the fact that the painting of the Virgin de la Cesta was well known thanks to the engravings and copies made of the work.
Madonna of the Basket of Correggio
In it Antonio Allegri, better known as Correggio, gives a twist to the image of the Virgin since to the usual essence of humility, he adds a tone of innocence, of a very human and above all moving expression of love, of the affection that exists between a mother and her son.
The scene couldn't be more natural and more tender. We see the Virgin in the open air, sitting under a tree, next to the basket that gives the painting its name. And she is with Jesus, to whom she is going to try on a garment that she appears to have sewn for him. A simple, familiar scene, in fact a little further on, at a certain distance, José can be seen working in his carpentry shop.
You can even see his humble house, leaning against the remains of an older and grander building, something no doubt symbolic in tone to show how a new faith was born out of pagan beliefs
In fact, there are a few more symbols in the painting. For example the gesture of the littleit's like he's practicing to bless. While the shirt that Mary tries on is surely the seamless garment that, according to the biblical texts, was growing at the same time as Jesus, until finally the Roman soldiers stripped him of it on the Cross, and that they would even play dice as recounted in the Gospels.
However, it must be said that the image works without knowing those meanings. That is his greatness. Correggio is able to captivate us with the naturalness of the scene, in which the foreshortenings of the protagonists and the play of light and color that bathes the entire space form an inseparable tandem, where the pink, blue and gold tones create a very cozy atmosphere.. Without forgetting a detail that still gives the painting more sensitivity, and that is the imprecise brushstroke of the artist, which in such a small painting can even seem shaky to us, but it is a most captivating effect despite preventing the figures from being completely clear no matter how close we look at them.