Madonna and child signed and dated 'F. Gai/1867' (upper right) oil on canvas 88.5 x 67.5cm (34 13/16 x 26 9/16in).
Francesco Gai was born in Rome in 1835. He enrolled at the Accademia di S. Luca where he won his first medal in 1863 for a religious subject S. luca Evangelista con i suoi simbol. The present lot was painted in 1867 during one of his most prolific periods and has strong echoes of the work of The Nazarenes whose aim was to revive the honesty and spirituality in Christian art. Gai was commissioned to restore the frescoes and decoration of the convent of S. Prassede in Rome. This work was followed by commissions for portraits of various members of the aristocracy including the Brancaccio Family. During this period he also painted numerous mythological subjects and worked on various decorative schemes and ceiling murals in several palaces. Gai also designed furniture and sculpture.