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A red-haired woman holds a baby while surrounding cherubs look on.

A light-skinned, red-haired woman holds a light-skinned baby. The woman wears a black cloak and red dress with a jeweled neckline. Her features are narrow and delicate, with large eyes and a small nose and mouth. The baby in her arms looks upward at her. His right arm is bent across his body, and his left palm faces the viewer. He is partially wrapped in a white cloth. Behind the woman and child is an elaborate floral pattern and patch of gold framing the woman’s head with four light-skinned, winged angels at each side. They look down toward the child.

Gallery Text

The work of an anonymous painter from the Flemish city of Bruges, this vibrant devotional image was originally the left wing of a diptych, as the remnants of two hinges on the right edge of its original frame indicate. It depicts the Virgin, wearing a red dress trimmed with costly pearls and jewels, placed before a brocade cloth ornamented with palmettes and held by two angels. Six more angels hover in prayer, forming an arch around her bright golden aureole. It is likely that the right wing for this panel is a portrait of the Italian banker Lodovico Portinari (now in Philadelphia), whose powerful family represented the interests of the Medici in Flanders. Hinged to Portinari’s portrait, the painting would have offered intimate, perpetual access to the Virgin and Child, who are made present in an image of visionary splendor. Italian bankers and merchants admired the work of Northern artists, and Portinari likely commissioned this work while living in Bruges.

Identification and Creation

Object Number
Master of the Saint Ursula Legend, Netherlandish (active c. 1485 - c. 1515)
The Virgin and Child with Angels
Work Type
c. 1480
Creation Place: Europe, Netherlands
Persistent Link


Level 2, Room 2500, European Art, 13th–16th century, Art and Image in Europe
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Physical Descriptions

Oil on panel, in original frame
41.3 x 29.7 cm (16 1/4 x 11 11/16 in.)
framed: 51.3 x 39.6 x 3.5 cm (20 3/16 x 15 9/16 x 1 3/8 in.)
Inscriptions and Marks
  • label: on back of frame, printed in black: 73
  • inscription: on back of frame, handwritten in black: Leo Nard [ ]
  • inscription: on back of panel, handwritten in black crayon: 2346
  • inscription: on back of panel, handwritten in black crayon: 12245
  • label: on back of panel, typed in black ink: 12245


Recorded Ownership History
Count Palmieri, Florence, before 1902. Steinmeyer Collection, Cologne, 1902. Leo Nardus, Suresnes, 1907. Peter Arrell Brown Widener, Elkins Park, PA, sold [through M. Knoedler & Co., New York]; to Grenville Lindall Winthrop, New York, 1911, as "Flemish Picture," bequest; to Fogg Art Museum, 1943

Acquisition and Rights

Credit Line
Harvard Art Museums/Fogg Museum, Bequest of Grenville L. Winthrop
Accession Year
Object Number
European and American Art


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Publication History

  • [Reproduction only], "A Special Number Devoted to the Grenville Lindall Winthrop Bequest", Bulletin of the Fogg Museum of Art, Fogg Art Museum (Cambridge, MA, November 1943)., pp. 46-47
  • Jakob Rosenberg, "The Winthrop Collection: Flemish Primitives", Art News (January 1-14, 1944), vol. XLII, no 16, repr.
  • Colin T. Eisler, Les primitifs flamands: I. Corpus de la peinture des anciens Pays-Bas méridionaux au quinziéme siécle, 4, New England Museums, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, Mass. [etc.] (Brussels, 1961), pp. 101-107, no. 76
  • Georges Marlier, Le Maître de la Légende de sainte Ursule, exh. cat., Koninklijk Museum voor Schone Kunsten (Antwerp, 1964), pp. 15-16, repr. p. 15 as no. 9
  • Dirk de Vos, "De Madonna en Kindtypologie bij Rogier van der Weyden", Jahrbuch der Berliner Museen (March 1971), No. 13, pp. 136, 139, 161, repr. p. 136 as no. 5
  • Max J. Friedlander, Early Netherlandish Painting, Editions de la Connaissance (Brussels, 1971), Vol. 6, pp. 39, 60, cat. no. 122, repr. as pl. 143
  • Charles Werner Haxthausen, The Busch-Reisinger Museum, Harvard University, Abbeville Press (New York, NY, 1980), p. 53, repr.
  • Edgar Peters Bowron, European Paintings Before 1900 in the Fogg Art Museum: A Summary Catalogue including Paintings in the Busch-Reisinger Museum, Harvard University Art Museums (Cambridge, MA, 1990), p. 40, color plate; pp. 119, 168, repr. b/w cat. no. 95
  • Molly Faries, ed., Recent Developments in the Technical Examination of Early Netherlandish Painting: Methodology, Limitations and Perspectives, Harvard University Art Museums (Cambridge, MA, 2003), p. 157, in glossary; repr. in color as plates 29A & B
  • Andrea Pearson, Envisioning Gender in Burgundian Devotional Art, 1350-1530, Ashgate Publishing (Hampshire, England, 2005), checklist no. 11, p. 196
  • John Oliver Hand, Catherine A. Metzger, and Ron Spronk, Prayers and Portraits: Unfolding the Netherlandish Diptych, exh. cat., Yale University Press (New Haven, CT, and London, 2006), p.7; p. 9, repr. in color p. 10 as fig. 6a; verso repr. as fig. 6c; pp. 18-19; macrograph repr. p. 19 as fig. 10; X-ray repr. p. 19 as fig. 11
  • Paula Nuttall, Face to Face: Flanders, Florence, and Renaissance Painting, exh. cat., The Huntington Library, Art Gallery, and Botanical Gardens (San Marino, California, 2013), repr. in color p. 15 as fig. 2A; text, p.14

Exhibition History

  • Northern European Art from 1450 to 1550, Harvard University Art Museums, Cambridge, 08/13/1994 - 02/05/1995
  • Re-View: S422-423 Western Art of the Middle Ages & Renaissance, Harvard Art Museums/Arthur M. Sackler Museum, Cambridge, 08/16/2008 - 06/18/2011
  • 32Q: 2500 Renaissance, Harvard Art Museums, Cambridge, 11/16/2014 - 01/01/2050

Subjects and Contexts

  • Collection Highlights
  • Google Art Project

Related Works

Verification Level

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