Dieric Bouts and/or workshop, Virgin and Child, ca. 1460
Oil on panel, 10 1/4 x 7 3/4 in. (26 x 19.7 cm). Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, Roscoe and Margaret Oakes Collection, 75.2.14
This intimate portrayal of the Virgin Mary and Infant Christ evokes the bond between mother and child, drawing an emotional connection between human experience and the divine. Like the painting’s rich colors and attention to surface detail, this new emotional realism was a hallmark of Netherlandish painting in Bouts’s time. An innovative artist, he was widely admired and imitated. The earliest and most important versions of this particular composition are the present panel, another in the Museo Nazionale del Bargello in Florence, and a third in the Metropolitan Museum of Art. The Metropolitan Museum picture is likely the primary version, but the San Francisco picture is the most sumptuous of the three. The Virgin’s crimson cloak, crown of pearls, and gold brocade cloth of honor lend this object an air of luxury, while its small scale suggests it was used for private devotion.
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