Dream of the Virgin

Simone de’ Crocifissi

Bologna, documented from 1355 to 1399.

Tempera on wooden panel, 75 x 52cm

Inv. 57

The Pinacoteca Nazionale, Ferrara

Originally kept in the Monastero del Corpus Domini in Ferrara, this panel was bought by the Ferrara City Council in 1874. One of the greatest Bolognese painters of the fourteenth century, Simone de’ Crocifissi learnt his trade from Vitale da Bologna’s work in the church of Santa Maria di Mezzaratta. Given the similarities between the pictorial solutions used by Vitale during the mid-thirteen-fifties and de’ Crocifissi in this work, Dream of the Virgin can be dated to the exact same period. The iconography of this painting references the relatively rare theme of Mary as radix sancta, or the root of the Tree of Life and Redemption that rises from the womb of the sleeping Madonna. The tree of grape vines that gives forth wine and the pelican that cuts itself to feed its young with its own blood are both references to the Eucharist and Christ’s salvific sacrifice. Simone’s stylistic characteristics include the unusual punching detail on the haloes and the complex techniques used to achieve the decorative motifs.