The Madonna of the Magnificat, also referred to as the Virgin and Child with Five Angels, is a painting of circular form by the Italian Renaissance painter Sandro Botticelli, exhibited in the galleries of the Uffizi Gallery in Florence. The painting depicts the Virgin Mary with a thin veil covering her flowing golden hair and a Byzantine style scarf around her shoulders, being crowned by two of the five wingless angels.
She appears to be writing the Magnificat, also known as the Song of Mary, on the right-hand page of a book, while the left page is part of the Benedictus and in her left hand she holds a pomegranate, which conveys a sense of passion.
The Song of Mary, taken from the Gospel of Luke, narrates the visit of Mary to her cousin, Elizabeth, who is pregnant with John the Baptist and as John moves within Elizabeth's womb, Mary praises God for the favour he has bestowed upon her. However, the Benedictus, also known as the song of thanksgiving, is another canticle from the Gospel of Luke, uttered by Zechariah, a figure in the New Testament and the Quran, on the occasion of the circumcision of his son, John the Baptist.
The painting also depicts the infant Jesus on the lap of Mary, swaddled in cloth and guiding her hand, while looking up to the clear blue sky and a third Angel kneeling reverently before the mother and her child. The figures are placed in front of a bright and serene landscape and the framing creates a division between the Heaven above and the earth below.
Like his other famously painted female figures, especially his Madonnas, Sandro Botticelli painted the Virgin Mary in the Madonna of the Magnificat with an incredible maternal touch and pale, porcelain-like face, with light pink blushing across her nose, cheeks and mouth. In this particular work, he also cleverly used gold paint to highlight the hair strands for all of the Angels, as well as the Virgin.
Gold is used in the angelic rays that have descended from heaven and used to maximum effect in the starry crown, which is placed majestically onto the Virgin's head.
Several historians considered Mary in the painting to be the portrait of Lucrezia Tornabuoni, wife of Piero de’ Medici, the de facto ruler of Florence during the Italian Renaissance and the two angels holding the book to be her sons.