The Virgin and Child with St. Barbara and Jan Vos (Exeter Virgin)

religious depiction of man kneeling in front of the Virgin and Child, with saint at his back, circa 1400s

Petrus Christus
The Virgin and Child with St. Barbara and Jan Vos (Exeter Virgin), ca. 1450
Oil on panel
7 5/8 x 5 1/2 in. (19.5 x 14 cm)
Staatliche Museen zu Berlin Preussischer Kulturbesitz, Gemäldegalerie, Berlin
Photo: Christoph Schmidt


Jan Vos seems to have commissioned this panel from Petrus Christus shortly before leaving Bruges in 1450. Vos probably gave the Frick Virgin to Christus as a model, but the artist also drew inspiration from another late work by Van Eyck, the lost Maelbeke Virgin, the composition of which he recorded in the drawing shown in this exhibition. In contrast to the Frick Virgin’s commemorative function, the panel was intended as an object of private devotion for Vos to use in his cell or on his travels. Its minute details would have offered endless possibilities for examination and helped Vos visualize this divine encounter in his mind’s eye during meditation. Kneeling on holy ground far from the industrious city below, Vos exemplifies the Carthusian ideal of removal from the world.

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