The Virgin

The Virgin is set against a gold-leaf background. Her heavenly nature is emphasised by her jewelled hood-trimming and the intricate patterns punched onto the painting's gilded surface. The Virgin's incomplete halo suggests that the panel may have been cropped at the top.

A false attribution to the 13th-century Italian artist Cimabue appears in an inscription on the back of the panel. Until recently, the painting was thought to be French but new evidence suggests it was made in the region of Valencia, Spain, in the mid-15th century. Pine panels like the one which this picture is painted were commonly used in the Mediterranean, particularly in Valencia. The thin layers of oil paint and the meticulous attention paid to decorative motifs recall Netherlandish painting, which the artist could have seen in Spain or by travelling to the Netherlands.

Such bust-length Virgins were frequently paired with images of Christ as the Man of Sorrows – a number of examples can be found in Valencian collections.

Key facts

Full title
The Virgin
Date made
probably 1450s
Medium and support
Oil on pine
34.9 x 26 cm
Acquisition credit
Bought, 1891
Inventory number
Location in Gallery