Faithful to the traditions of the late Gothic and early Renaissance, our work depicts a favorite subject of Flemish painters, the Madonna and Child with St Joseph. The peculiarity lies all the same in the presence of the angel crowning the Virgin.
Our composition is known by several variants performed by Pieter Coecke Van Aelst and his workshop, as well as by Master of the Prodigal Son. Some are reproduced in the artist's catalog raisonné written by Georges Marlier (1966).
The Virgin Mary is seated near a window, leaning against a marble column. She holds the infant Jesus in her knees, who is completely naked, looks at the viewer, stretching his hand towards his mother's neck in a gesture of tenderness.
Marie, her gaze modestly lowered, holds in her right hand the apple, symbol of the fall of man.
In front of her, in the foreground, on a small table is a claw-footed cup. In this cup among other fruits, a pear (symbol of Christian hope), grape (passion of Christ).
A winged angel flies above Mary with a crown of flowers.
In a wide opening to the outside, Joseph leans forward and looks at the mother and son, his left hand raised open.
Behind him opens the rolling panorama of the Flemish countryside, this landscape includes another episode of biblical history, the flight into Egypt, Mary sitting on a donkey, and Joseph walking beside her.
This superposition is typical in Renaissance works and allows a story to be told through a single painting.
The painter's know-how is particularly present in the harmoniously modeled drapes with many folds and drops.
Workshop of Pieter Coecke Van Aelst,
Oil on oak panel, 16th century
Dimensions: panel: h. 73.7 cm, l. 52 cm
Ebonised frame of later period.
Framed : h. 103 cm, l. 82 cm
By P. Coecke Van Aelst, Baron Joly collection, Belgium, reproduced in the catalog of G. Marlier, fig. 179
By P. C. oecke Van Aelst, Sotheby’s sale 29/04/2010, lot no. 3, also with the flight into Egypt
By P. Coecke Van Aelst's studio, Sotheby's sale, 09/07/1998, slightly reduced landscape
Attributed to P. Coecke Van Aelst, Neumeister sale, 04/12/2002, Munich,
G. Marlier, The Flemish Renaissance. Pierre Coeck d'Alost, Brussels 1966