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Quinten Massys, The Virgin and Child Enthroned, with Four Angels

Key facts
Full title The Virgin and Child Enthroned, with Four Angels
Artist Quinten Massys
Artist dates 1465/6 - 1530
Date made about 1506-9
Medium and support Oil on oak
Dimensions 62.3 × 43.5 cm
Acquisition credit Bequeathed by C. W. Dyson Perrins, 1958
Inventory number NG6282
Location On loan: Masterpieces from the National Gallery, Chimei Museum, Tainan City, Taiwan
Collection Main Collection
The Virgin and Child Enthroned, with Four Angels
Quinten Massys

This paintings shows the Virgin as Queen of Heaven: she sits on a gilded throne and two angels hover above her, about to place an extraordinarily delicate crown on her head. The throne is decorated with red and green enamel or glass, and rests on the dais of a small Gothic church. The infant Christ, a string of coral beads around his neck, plays with the book held by his mother, pulling on the red book mark. The pair are serenaded by angels who stand to either side of the throne playing a lute and a harp.

The luxurious carpet beneath the Virgin’s feet – an item of very great value in northern Europe in the sixteenth century – is probably based on a real rug. Look closely and you can see how the artist has suggested its texture: the pattern is rendered in darker colours, with small dots modelled in lighter hues to indicate the texture of the knots.

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