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The Virgin
Workshop of Quinten Massys
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The Virgin Mary gazes to her right, her hands folded in prayer. She is richly dressed: her mantle is edged with delicate gold embroidery dotted with pearls, and her blue underdress is lined with brown fur. On her head is a circlet of three strands of pearls held with a jewelled catch, and a transparent veil woven of very fine threads.

This panel goes with another, showing showing Christ as the Salvator Mundi (‘Saviour of the World’), which is also in the National Gallery’s collection.

Key facts
Artist Workshop of Quinten Massys
Artist dates 1465/6 - 1530
Full title The Virgin
Group Diptych: Christ and the Virgin
Date made about 1510-25
Medium and support Oil on oak
Dimensions 60.3 × 34.7 cm
Acquisition credit Bought, 1857
Inventory number NG295.2
Location in Gallery Not on display
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Diptych: Christ and the Virgin

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This composition of Christ as the Salvator Mundi (‘Saviour of the World’) adored by his mother, the Virgin Mary, was very popular in the early sixteenth century. These are workshop copies of originals painted by Quinten Massys towards the beginning of his career. His workshop then continued to produce further versions over a long period.

These panels were painted by Massys‘ two main associates, one working on each; some less important areas were delegated to assistants, who perhaps worked on both. Although the panels have always been regarded as a diptych (a painting made of two parts) they were not actually made to go together. The Virgin probably came from the stock in Massys’ workshop and was cut down to be paired with the painting of Christ.

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