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Workshop of Jean Bellegambe, The Virgin and Child

Key facts
Full title The Virgin and Child
Artist Workshop of Jean Bellegambe
Artist dates about 1470; died 1535/6
Date made about 1520
Medium and support Oil on oak
Dimensions 71.3 × 52.8 cm
Acquisition credit Bought, 1854
Inventory number NG265
Location Not on display
Collection Main Collection
The Virgin and Child
Workshop of Jean Bellegambe

The Virgin Mary, the smiling Christ Child on her lap, sits under a fanciful framework of architecture, sculpture and metalwork which forms the back and canopy for her throne. Stone columns rest on green cushions, which seem to be carved and coloured in a deceptive imitation of reality. Stone branches sprout from the column tops and are entwined in stone acanthus leaves. In the upper corners, two babies, carved from whitish stone, grasp the stems which meet over the Virgin’s head.

The Virgin holds an open book in one hand but glances sideways at her son. He is playing with the Renaissance equivalent of a bubble maker. The bubble is a reference to an ancient proverb, homo bulla (‘man is a bubble’), which was used by artists as a reminder of mortality.

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