The Virgin And Child With Angels
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
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
Acquisition and Rights
Credit Line
Harvard Art Museums/Fogg Museum, Bequest of Grenville L. Winthrop
Accession Year
Object Number
European and American Art
Publication History

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, Ltd. (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 (U.S.) (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, 11/01/2014

Subjects and Contexts

Collection Highlights

Google Art Project

Verification Level

3 - Good. Object is well described and information is vetted