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Seated on an elaborate throne, the Madonna’s weighty majesty emphasizes her role as the Queen of Heaven as she gazes at her infant son. The child, in turn, stares at the viewer. To Christ’s right is a fluttering goldfinch, a bird that was believed to nest in thorny trees and, according to legend, removed a painful spine from Christ’s crown of thorns. At that moment, a drop of his blood fell onto the goldfinch, forever giving it red markings. The precise identity of this artist has not yet been discovered, and little is known about his training or career. He receives his name after an altarpiece in the church of San Lucchese in Poggibonsi, near Siena.

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