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The Virgin and Child with Saints and Donor
Gerard David
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The Virgin and Child are enthroned in a walled garden with three saints. Saint Mary Magdalene holds her pot of oil, while the richly dressed Saint Barbara has a tower – her attribute, or emblem – in her headdress. The wheel on which Saint Catherine was tortured is visible behind her, and Christ places a ring on her finger, an allusion to her ‘mystic marriage’ (a way of visualising her spiritual union with Christ).

On the left is Richard de Visch van der Capelle, canon of Saint Donation’s in Bruges. This painting was probably the altarpiece of his family chapel there, and might have been painted towards the end of his life or perhaps even after his death in 1511. The style is very close to David’s 1509 altarpiece (Musée des Beaux-Arts, Rouen) and Richard’s head does not seem to have been painted from life. Perhaps he was too old or infirm, or perhaps David, who would have known Richard, was working from memory.

Key facts
Artist Gerard David
Artist dates active 1484; died 1523
Full title The Virgin and Child with Saints and Donor
Date made probably 1510
Medium and support Oil on oak
Dimensions 105.8 x 144.4 cm
Inscription summary Inscribed
Acquisition credit Bequeathed by Mrs Lyne Stephens, 1895
Inventory number NG1432
Location in Gallery Room 5
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