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Juan de Flandes, Christ appearing to the Virgin

Key facts
Full title Christ appearing to the Virgin with the Redeemed of the Old Testament
Artist Juan de Flandes
Artist dates active from 1496; died 1519
Date made about 1499-1500
Medium and support Oil on oak
Dimensions 21.2 × 15.4 cm
Inscription summary Inscribed
Acquisition credit Bought, 1889
Inventory number NG1280
Location Room 27
Collection Main Collection
Christ appearing to the Virgin
Juan de Flandes

The Virgin Mary in her chamber is greeted by Christ, risen from the dead. He is accompanied by the multitude who followed him out of limbo. This painting belonged to Isabella of Castile, Queen of Spain, and was listed with 46 companion panels in an inventory in 1505. The panels – 27 survive in various collections – are all the same size, and most show scenes from the lives of Christ and the Virgin.

The episode shown here is not found in the Bible. The painter may have followed the account of this meeting between the Virgin and the risen Christ in the Vita Christi (‘Life of Christ’), a fifteenth-century Catalan devotional text written by an abbess, Sor Isabel de Villena. Sor Isabel was related to Ferdinand of Aragon and Isabella of Castile.

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