A major protagonist of early 15th-century Venetian painting and dubbed by Roberto Longhi ‘the greatest local artist of his generation’, Jacobello del Fiore began his career working in an elegant and mannered style much indebted to the byzantinizing aesthetic of Paolo Veneziano (c. 1300-1352). After 1410, Jacobello became engaged in the decoration of the Sala del Maggior Consiglio in the Doge's Palace in Venice, a major decorative cycle that attracted artists from throughout the Italian peninsula. There, Jacobello worked alongside painters such as Pisanello, Gentile da Fabriano and possibly Michelino da Besozzo. His work from this period begins to reveal these more diverse artistic influences, but never sacrifices the courtly and lyrical expression of Jacobello's Venetian roots, and marks the beginning of what we now think of as the indigenous Venetian Late Gothic style.
The present panel is remarkable for its delicately tooled gold ground, chromatic richness, and well-preserved glazes, which create a sophisticated sense of volume in the Christ Child's drapery. The 'Madonna of Humility' type emphasizes Mary's role as the compassionate, maternal intercessor for all who pray for Christ's mercy. At the same time, her impressive halo and gold-embellished mantle point to her role as the Queen of Heaven, while the stippled rays that emanate from her allude to the apocalyptic woman from the twelfth chapter of the biblical Book of Revelation, with whom the Virgin Mary is sometimes identified. The Christ Child, meanwhile, wears a cloak of gold lavishly adorned with elaborate punchwork, also alluding to his divine status.
At the time of its 2012 sale, Everett Fahy confirmed the attribution on the basis of first-hand inspection and dated the painting to c. 1420, around the same time the artist completed his magnificent Triptych of Justice for the Magistrato del Proprio in the Doge's Palace (1421; Venice, Accademia).