This luminous Madonna and Child was painted toward the end of the eighteenth century by Gaetano Gandolfi, one of the leading Italian painters of his day. Gaetano painted several variations on this theme throughout his career, exploring the tender relationship between the young Mother and her Son, which were often given this oval format: these range from his early Holy Family (private collection), to the Holy Family with Saint John (private collection, Bologna) dating from the 1880s and the Madonna Nursing the Christ Child from the Molinari Prandelli Collection (see D. Biagi Maino, Gaetano Gandolfi, Turin, 1995, figs. 80, 202, and 276). Most likely painted for a wealthy and cultured member of Bologna’s elite, the present painting was executed in Gandolfi’s most elegant, vibrant and harmonious palette: the almost iridescent green of the pillow that supports the Christ Child is balanced by the deep, lapis blue of the Virgin’s mantle and the textured ivory of Mary's veil, the latter of which is typical of Bolognese silk weaving. The red rose is both a symbol of Christ’s Passion and, as in the present case, an allusion to the purity of the Virgin, who according to tradition is known as the “rose without thorns”.