Jean Gossart circle


16th century
Wood, oil, 36 x 23.2 cm

"Madonna and Child with Saint Anne" is a Christian iconography that spread in the Middle Ages with the growing popularity of Saint Anne. Anna is not mentioned in the canonical Gospels, but her name appears as the mother of Mary in the so-called Proto-Gospel of James. In the 15th century, the plot gained its peak of popularity, and a century later in Northern Europe it faded due to Protestantism. In this work, an unknown artist from the circle of Jan Gossaert departs from late medieval iconography, representing Mary with the Child on Anna's lap. These half-length images of Mary and Anna have equal importance in the composition. The ideological and compositional center is the gesture of Anna’s hand, stretching it towards the Baby. The viewer's attention is focused on the skillfully thought-out dynamics of the gesture and the interaction of the characters. Such iconography is rather rare. The dove at the top of the picture is a symbol of the Holy Spirit, compositionally echoing Anna’s gesture. The saints are depicted under a red canopy. Gossaert himself usually painted his Madonnas either against a dark background or in Italianizing or Gothic architectural settings, however, a master of his circle used a more archaic canopy in an innovative interpretation of modern perspective studies. The face of the Mother of God is distinguished by the skill of its execution.

By combining the late Gothic traditions of the North with elements of the Italian Renaissance, masters of the Netherlandish school such as Jan Gossaert and his students prepared the way for Dutch and Flemish Baroque art of the 17th century.

Northern Renaissance