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Hans Memling, Virgin and Child

Key facts
Full title Virgin and Child
Artist Hans Memling
Artist dates active 1465; died 1494
Date made perhaps about 1475
Medium and support Oil on oak
Dimensions 37.9 × 28 cm
Acquisition credit Presented by Queen Victoria at the Prince Consort's wish, 1863
Inventory number NG709
Location Room 26
Collection Main Collection
Previous owners
Virgin and Child
Hans Memling

The Virgin Mary, bareheaded and richly dressed, holds the naked Christ Child, who rests on a white cushion on a ledge. We are not sure whether the painting was once part of a triptych (a painting made up of three sections) or stood alone. The infant Christ could be blessing a donor in a panel on his right, or gesturing and speaking to the viewer.

Hans Memling ran a large and well-organised workshop, and tended to recycle designs based on workshop patterns with little variation. While the figures of the Virgin and Christ resemble those in other of Memling’s works, the painting has sometimes been thought to be by a follower. But the very detailed and delicate painting technique suggest the hand of Memling himself. Close inspection reveals that the white catchlights in Christ’s left eye are made up of seven separate brushstrokes.

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