The Virgin, Child and St. John

Image: Lorenzo di Credi, Italian (1458 or 1459-1537). Madonna and Child with the Infant Saint John the Baptist, ca. 1510. Oil on panel with tempera highlights, 40 1/16 x 28 11/16 inches (101.8 x 72.9 cm). The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, Kansas City, Missouri. Purchase: William Rockhill Nelson Trust, 39-3. Photo: Melville McLean

Lorenzo Di Credi

Lord Dudley's Collection
 

A SPREADING strawberry-tree
Embowers an altar-throne ;
Behind its leaves we see
Fair waters blue in tone ;
Sharp rocks confront the stream and soft
Summits and misty towers :
But sweet Madonna in a croft
Is resting, brimmed with flowers.

Anemones are here ;
How sturdily they grow,
Their brown-stemmed heads in clear
Design against the flow
Of the thin current scarce astir !
Through scrambling cresses strike
Petals of varied lavender

In chalice and in spike.

The summer light in streams
Has fallen where it can stray
On the blond girl who dreams
So lazily all day.
Dropt eyelids of a differing curve,
Deep-dinted lips austere,
Some curious grace of visage serve,
Half-wayward, half-severe.

No stain her cheek has got ;
Its sun-blanch is complete,
Save where one little spot
Sweats, rosy with the heat.
To keep that tender carmine free
In lustre, the arbute
Shields with a multiplicity
Of leaves its crimson fruit.

Of corn-flower blue, with gold
Her simple dress is sewn,
A cloak's cerulean fold
About her feet is thrown.
The lining of rich orange hue
Is visible just where
The brilliant and the paler blue
Would cruelly compare.

Mid windings of her wrap, 
Her naked child upon
The cradle of her lap
Blesses adoring John,
Whose flimsy, little shirt is tied
With lilac scarf ; the slim,
Gemmed crosier, propped against his side, 
Is far too long for him.

Her scarlet-sandalled foot
Soft resting-place has found ;
Cup-moss and daisy-root
Are thick upon the ground

Almost as in our English dells :
But here is columbine
And one of its pellucid bells
Doth to the stream incline.

How sweet to bless and pray
And nothing understand,
Warm in the lovely grey
Of that illumined land.
O boughs that such red berries bear,
O river-side of flowers.
No wonder Mary nurses there
Her Babe through summer hours !

 

 

Lorenzo Di Credi

Lord Dudley's Collection
 

A SPREADING strawberry-tree
Embowers an altar-throne ;
Behind its leaves we see
Fair waters blue in tone ;
Sharp rocks confront the stream and soft
Summits and misty towers :
But sweet Madonna in a croft
Is resting, brimmed with flowers.

Anemones are here ;
How sturdily they grow,
Their brown-stemmed heads in clear
Design against the flow
Of the thin current scarce astir !
Through scrambling cresses strike
Petals of varied lavender

In chalice and in spike.

The summer light in streams
Has fallen where it can stray
On the blond girl who dreams
So lazily all day.
Dropt eyelids of a differing curve,
Deep-dinted lips austere,
Some curious grace of visage serve,
Half-wayward, half-severe.

No stain her cheek has got ;
Its sun-blanch is complete,
Save where one little spot
Sweats, rosy with the heat.
To keep that tender carmine free
In lustre, the arbute
Shields with a multiplicity
Of leaves its crimson fruit.

Of corn-flower blue, with gold
Her simple dress is sewn,
A cloak's cerulean fold
About her feet is thrown.
The lining of rich orange hue
Is visible just where
The brilliant and the paler blue
Would cruelly compare.

Mid windings of her wrap, 
Her naked child upon
The cradle of her lap
Blesses adoring John,
Whose flimsy, little shirt is tied
With lilac scarf ; the slim,
Gemmed crosier, propped against his side, 
Is far too long for him.

Her scarlet-sandalled foot
Soft resting-place has found ;
Cup-moss and daisy-root
Are thick upon the ground

Almost as in our English dells :
But here is columbine
And one of its pellucid bells
Doth to the stream incline.

How sweet to bless and pray
And nothing understand,
Warm in the lovely grey
Of that illumined land.
O boughs that such red berries bear,
O river-side of flowers.
No wonder Mary nurses there
Her Babe through summer hours !