This painting was probably painted as a private devotional work. The Virgin Mary's halo is inscribed with the Archangel Gabriel's salutation at the Annunciation as recounted in the New Testament (Luke 1: 28).
It was probably hung in a tabernacle frame fairly high on a bedchamber wall. Thus the Virgin looks down on the viewer. The crisp and complex folds of the Christ Child's drapery serve as a foil for the Virgin's hands, which seem to do little to support him.