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The Virgin and Child in a Landscape
Bernaert van Orley
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In this small panel, the Virgin Mary sits under a tree and offers her breast to the Christ Child, who grasps it with both hands but turns away to look out towards the viewer. Although this is not a specific image of the Rest on the Flight into Egypt – it lacks Joseph, the donkey and the luggage – it may well be inspired by earlier versions of that subject.

The geometric arrangement of the composition, with diagonals running from lower left to upper right and centring on the folds of drapery pulled in a line between the Virgin’s right foot and left knee, is typical of mature Bernaert van Orley. The landscape – which seems to have been painted first, with a space left for the figures – may be by an assistant who specialised in painting these and who worked on other paintings by van Orley.

Key facts
Artist Bernaert van Orley
Artist dates active 1515; died 1541
Full title The Virgin and Child in a Landscape
Date made about 1525
Medium and support Oil on oak
Dimensions 35 × 27 cm
Acquisition credit Presented by Queen Victoria at the Prince Consort's wish, 1863
Inventory number NG714
Location in Gallery Gallery A: Paintings 1250-1600
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