In this small painting, the Virgin and Christ Child sit on an enormous and elaborately decorated throne in front of a distant landscape. Christ’s outstretched arms recall the Crucifixion, as do the cross and whip he holds.
This was perhaps the work of at least two artists. Technical analysis reveals a lot of underdrawing (the preliminary outlining of a composition) and many changes. The throne and canopy, which were originally smaller, were perhaps initially the work of a specialist painter. Jan van Coninxloo seems to have altered it considerably, adding figures of the Virgin and Child inspired by Jean Gossart’s The Virgin and Child (also in the National Gallery’s collection).
The painting has an integral frame – both frame and panel are carved from a single piece of oak. In one place the Virgin’s dress is painted to overlap onto the frame’s surface.
In this small painting, the Virgin Mary sits on an enormous and elaborately decorated throne in front of a distant landscape. The idea of raising the Virgin and Child on a vast, ornate structure was doubtless a very ancient one, but it was perhaps popularised in the Low Countries by Quinten Massys, as in The Virgin and Child Enthroned, with Four Angels. Here, the Christ Child seems to be trying to leap off his mother’s knee. His outstretched arms recall the Crucifixion, as do the cross and whip he holds: before being crucified, Christ was beaten by Roman soldiers.
Infrared reflectograms reveal a lot of underdrawing and many changes. In the first version of the picture, the throne and canopy were smaller but more intricately decorated. They were perhaps initially the work of a specialist painter. Jan van Coninxloo seems to have altered them considerably, adding figures of the Virgin and Child inspired by Jean Gossart’s The Virgin and Child.
The picture has an integral frame – panel and frame are carved from a single piece of oak – and in one place the Virgin’s dress is painted to overlap onto the frame’s surface. Many Renaissance paintings were part of multi-panelled altarpieces but this seems to have been intended as a single panel (there are no obvious traces of hinges). There are various holes in the top of the frame for hanging attachments, though these might have been made later; most small paintings weren't made to hang on walls at this time. The back is not finished with particular care and has no trace of a ground.
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