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Madonna at the fountain

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Jan van Eyck
Maaseik 1380/ 1400 - Bruges 1441
1439
oil on panel
19 x 12 cm
Inventory number 411

Mary cherishes her newborn son in a garden, secluded from the outside world. For the fifteenth-century faithful, this scene was a religious icon of compassion, solace and security. It was therefore a popular theme in the art of the Flemish Primitives. Jan van Eyck, whose fame extended far beyond the boundaries of the Low Countries, represented it in sublime fashion. He adorned his Madonna in a wonderful blue robe, a symbol of regality and fidelity. Behind her, two angels are holding a cloth of honour with flower and animal motifs. The garden around the virgin and child also has a symbolic meaning. It stands for the immaculate conception of Mary. The bronze fountain in the foreground represents the Mother of God as a source of life. The painting's astonishing technical brilliance and detail make it a fine example of van Eyck's absolute mastership. He represents the pinnacle of miniature painting and illumination in Europe's cultural centres of the fifteenth century.

Vintage van Eyck

The text under the painting refers directly to the artist: "(As best) as I can. Jan van Eyck made and completed me in the year 1439". This Madonna at the fountain is one of the few works we are able to attribute unequivocally to van Eyck.

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