Ansano di Pietro di Mencio, known as Sano di Pietro, was the most consistently productive Sienese master of the mid-fifteenth century. While less is known about his early years, his work is well documented from 1444 onwards. He executed numerous commissions in and around Siena, his compositions revealing the influence of other masters of the Sienese school, in particular Sassetta and Domenico di Bartolo.
The intimate relationship between the Madonna and Child in this panel owes much to earlier precedent and is paralleled in other devotional panels by the artist, including, for example, the Madonna and Child with Saints Jerome and Bernardino and four Angels (see Berenson, op. cit., II, pl. 581), in which the Child’s feet are positioned in a slightly different manner, his right hand not shown and that of the Madonna moved. Denys Sutton’s dating of the present picture to after 1450 is followed in the 1965 London catalogue by St. John Gore, who compares the work with the Madonna of the same format, still in its original frame, in the Lehman Collection, Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York (J. Pope Hennessy, The Robert Lehman Collection, I, Italian Paintings, New York and Princeton, 1987, no. 63); the present panel, though, is the finer in quality.