Robert Campin

The Virgin and the Child by a Fireplace

The Virgin and the Child by a Fireplace
(click image to zoom-in)
Author: Robert Campin
Painting, Oil on panel, 34.3x24.5 cm
Origin: Netherlands, 1430s

This altar diptych consists of two scenes, The Trinity and the Virgin and Child. It is the very earliest Netherlandish work in the Hermitage. On this, the right wing, we see the Virgin in a typical comfortable interior of the kind one would expect to find in the house of a Netherlandish burgher. She is totally absorbed in the everyday concerns of motherhood: about to swaddle the child, she stretches out her hand to the fire in order to warm it. The artist reproduces many details of the setting, the household objects, emphasizing their mass, solidity and texture: the marble tiles of the floor, the ermine wrap on the Virgin's knees, the bowl and ewer, the pure white towel on the rail, the nailheads, the window. He marvellously conveys the cold, diffused daylight and the tiny fragment of an urban landscape visible through the window. The very realistic impression is largely the result of the use of the oil painting technique, first introduced by the founder of Netherlandish Renaissance painting Jan van Eyck.

Personage: Madonna and Child
Source of entry: Collection of D.P. Tatishchev, St Petersburg, 1845
Theme: The Bible and Christianity
Exibition: Netherlandish Art: 15th - early 17th centuries

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