Workshop of Giovanni Bellini
Madonna and Child

Circa 1510
Oil on wood
Metropolitan Museum of Art, 49.7.2, Jules Bache collection

The swallow in the child's hand refers to a belief that swallows resurrect themselves each year and thus are their Creator's way of reminding us of Christ's resurrection. The boy's nakedness is a feature of 15th-century Madonna and Child images that held on until about the middle of the 16th.

The Madonna's most common garb is a red robe with a blue mantle, but the reverse is not unprecedented.

Read more about images of the Madonna and Child.

Photograph: Richard Stracke, shared under Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike license.