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A woman nursing a child faces a man who paints at an easel.

In a dim hall with high ceilings, tall arches, garlands, and cherub statues, a light-skinned woman in a blue robe holds a light-skinned baby. Many golden rays radiate from her head. The baby seated on the woman’s lap has a similar halo. The baby wears a sheer garment with orange details. He nurses at the woman’s exposed breast. A light-skinned man in a red robe and black hat sits at an easel to the left, facing the mother and child. He gazes down at a panel on the easel, holding a brush to it with his right hand.

Gallery Text

The unidentified painter known as the Master of the Holy Blood takes his name from a triptych that belonged to the Brotherhood of the Holy Blood in Bruges. This panel belongs to a heterogeneous oeuvre of about thirty intact or fragmentary altarpieces and devotional pictures that have been attributed to the master’s Bruges workshop. Although not part of the canonical cycle of scenes from the Life of the Virgin, the apocryphal story of Saint Luke painting the Virgin and Child was a popular subject in fifteenth- and sixteenth-century Netherlandish art. Since Luke purportedly painted from life the image that became the prototype for later representations of the Virgin and Child, he was the patron saint of painters and painters’ guilds.

Identification and Creation

Object Number
Master of the Holy Blood, Netherlandish
Previously attributed to Quentin Metsys, Netherlandish (Antwerp c. 1460 - 1530)
Saint Luke Painting the Virgin and Child
Work Type
c. 1520
Persistent Link


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

Oil on oak panel
43.6 x 32.4 cm (17 3/16 x 12 3/4 in.)


Recorded Ownership History
[A. Ulrich-Jaeger, New York], sold; to Fogg Art Museum, 1910

Acquisition and Rights

Credit Line
Harvard Art Museums/Fogg Museum, The John Witt Randall Fund
Accession Year
Object Number
European and American Art

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Publication History

  • William N. Bates, "Archaeological News: Notes on Recent Excavations and Discoveries; Other News", American Journal of Archaeology (July - September 1913), Vol. 17, no. 3, pp. 429-469, p. 124
  • Edward Waldo Forbes and Laura Howland Dudley, "The Fogg Museum of Harvard University: Primitive Italian Pictures Recently Acquired by the Fogg Museum", Museum of Fine Arts Bulletin, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston (Boston, MA, August 1913), Vol. 11, No. 64, p. 39
  • Collection of Mediaeval and Renaissance Paintings, Fogg Art Museum (Cambridge, Massachusetts, 1919), pp. 300-302, no. 61, as by School of Quentin Metsys
  • George L. Stout, "A Study of the Method in a Flemish Painting", "Portraits of Geniuses: the Masters" series, Fogg Art Museum (April 1933), Vol. 1, No. 4, pp. 181-206, repr.
  • Style and Technique: Their Interrelation in Western European Painting, exh. cat., Fogg Art Museum (Cambridge, MA, 1936), no. 24, p. 32, pl. IX
  • Reginald H. Wilenski, Flemish Painters, 1430 - 1830, Viking Press (New York, 1960), Vol. I, p. 555; Vol. II, repr. as pl. 260
  • Max J. Friedlander, Early Netherlandish Painting, Editions de la Connaissance (Brussels, 1971), Vol. IX, Part 2, p. 120
  • 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. 118, repr. no. 112
  • Rhona MacBeth and Ron Spronk, "A Material History of Rogier's Saint Luke Drawing the Virgin", Rogier van der Weyden: St. Luke Drawing the Virgin: Selected Essays in Context, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston/Brepols Publishers (Boston, MA/Turnhout, Belgium, 1998), p. 122, repr. in b/w p. 123, fig. 23
  • Till-Holger Borchert, The Age of Van Eyck: The Mediterranean World and Early Netherlandish Painting 1430 -1530, exh. cat., Ludion Amsterdam-Ghent (Bruges, Belgium, 2002), p. 224, fig. 251, p. 241, cat. no. 44, repr. in color
  • Peter Klein, "Dendrochronological Analyses of Netherlandish Paintings", Recent Developments in the Technical Examination of Early Netherlandish Painting, ed. Molly Faries, Harvard University Art Museums (Cambridge MA, 2003), pp. 65-81, p. 80, in table 5
  • Ron Spronk, "Standing on the Shoulders of Giants: The Early Years of Conservation and Technical Examination of Netherlandish Paintings of the Fogg Art Museum", Recent Developments in the Technical Examination of Early Netherlandish Painting, ed. Molly Faries, Harvard University Art Museums (Cambridge, MA, 2003), pp. 39-56, p. 42; repr. p. 44 as fig. 6; X-ray repr. as fig. 10; repr. in color, pls. 4 & 5
  • Francesca Bewer, A Laboratory for Art: Harvard's Fogg Museum and the Emergence of Conservation in America, 1900-1950, Harvard Art Museum and Yale University Press (U.S.) (Cambridge, MA, 2010), p. 164, fig. 4.12
  • Elena V. Shabliy, ed., Representations of the Blessed Virgin Mary in World Literature and Art, Lexington Books (Lanham, Maryland, 2017), repr. on p. 37

Exhibition History

  • Style and Technique: Their Interrelation in Western European Painting, Fogg Art Museum, Cambridge, 06/01/1936 - 12/31/1936
  • Acquisition in Context: The Adoration Triptych by the Master of 1518, Harvard University Art Museums, Cambridge, 09/28/1991 - 01/19/1992
  • Northern European Art from 1450 to 1550, Harvard University Art Museums, Cambridge, 08/13/1994 - 02/05/1995
  • The age of Van Eyck : the Mediterranean world and early Netherlandish painting,, Groeningemuseum, Brugge, 03/14/2002 - 06/30/2002
  • 32Q: 2500 Renaissance, Harvard Art Museums, Cambridge, 11/16/2014 - 01/01/2050

Subjects and Contexts

  • Google Art Project

Related Works

Verification Level

This record has been reviewed by the curatorial staff but may be incomplete. Our records are frequently revised and enhanced. For more information please contact the Division of European and American Art at