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After Robert Campin, 'The Virgin and Child in an Apse with Two Angels', about 1500?

Key facts
Full title The Virgin and Child in an Apse with Two Angels
Artist After Robert Campin
Artist dates 1378/9 - 1444
Date made about 1500?
Medium and support Oil on oak
Dimensions 56.7 × 44.1 cm
Acquisition credit Salting Bequest, 1910
Inventory number NG2608
Location Not on display
Collection Main Collection
Previous owners
The Virgin and Child in an Apse with Two Angels
After Robert Campin

We are looking through a gilded arch into a small chapel in which the Virgin is breastfeeding the Christ Child to an angelic musical accompaniment. She cradles him in her arms, and looks down affectionately as he hungrily squeezes her breast.

This is one of around 60 versions of a lost painting by Robert Campin, possibly from around 1420. All the surviving paintings are slightly different, so it is hard to work out what the original looked like, but this seems to be quite a faithful copy: it is similar to other early versions.

Much remains to be discovered about the Virgin in an Apse. The ‘apse’ itself and the upraised little finger of the Virgin’s left hand remain mysterious, but the most baffling question is why this composition should have enjoyed such immense popularity. The original, or one of the versions, may perhaps have been associated with a miracle.

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