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The Virgin and Child with Saints Catherine and Barbara
Quinten Massys
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The Virgin Mary is seated on a marble and porphyry throne within a church; an opening on the left leads to a landscape. The infant Christ squats on her lap, and two saints kneel on either side: Catherine of Alexandria on the left and Barbara on the right.

The naked child, wrapped in a white cloth, places a ring on Saint Catherine’s finger. Traditionally known as the mystic marriage of Saint Catherine, this was a way of visualising her spiritual union with Christ. Behind Saint Barbara is her symbol: the tower in which she was imprisoned.

This is one of the rare surviving examples of a Renaissance painting done on cloth rather than wooden panel; although many such paintings were made, they were extremely fragile.

Key facts
Artist Quinten Massys
Artist dates 1465/6 - 1530
Full title The Virgin and Child with Saints Catherine and Barbara
Date made probably about 1515-25
Medium and support Glue on linen
Dimensions 93.5 × 110.3 cm
Acquisition credit Presented by Charles Bridger Orme Clarke, 1922
Inventory number NG3664
Location in Gallery Not on display
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