Cima was born in Conegliano, a prosperous market town north of Venice in the foothills of the Italian Alps. The picturesque landscape of this region frequently appears in the backgrounds of his paintings; the hill town in the background of this work is probably Conegliano. Cima’s family name derives from the profession of his father and grandfather, who were cimatori di panni, craftsmen employed in the trimming and finishing of woolen cloth.
Cima was among the generation of artists who ushered in the “Golden Age” of Venetian painting, which was distinguished by three closely linked qualities: the exploration and refinement of the oil medium, a remarkable sensitivity for rendering light, and a particular affinity for landscape painting. All three qualities are evident in Cima’s work. His mastery of the oil medium is apparent in passages such as the luminous landscape, which conveys the ethereal quality of the light that suffuses the Venetian countryside, and in the heads of the Madonna and Child, beautifully modeled through subtle gradations of light. The refinement of Cima’s technique is also revealed in his careful rendering of the Madonna’s headdress, where the transparency of the cloth, the detailed embroidery, and the delicate fringe along the border are depicted with a sophistication and acuity that reflect a professional familiarity with cloth.