The Virgin and Child with a Donor

silverpoint drawing on paper of The Virgin and Child with kneeling donor

Attributed to Petrus Christus, after Jan van Eyck and workshop
The Virgin and Child with a Donor, copy after The Virgin and Child with Canon Nicolas van Maelbeke (Maelbeke Virgin), ca. 1445
Silverpoint on prepared paper
10 15/16 x 7 1/16 in. (27.8 x 18 cm)
The Albertina, Vienna
The Albertina Museum, Vienna


This drawing records the appearance of a lost memorial painted by Jan van Eyck and his workshop in the early 1440s to commemorate the canon Nicolas van Maelbeke. Special care was taken in replicating the Virgin and Child, the deep sculptural folds of the Virgin’s mantle, and the carefully constructed architectural setting, but the landscape background and most of the donor figures were omitted. This selective approach was common in fifteenth-century workshops. The drawing displays characteristics consistent with the style of Petrus Christus and, if it is by him, might account for the evident debt of the Exeter Virgin to Van Eyck’s lost Maelbeke Virgin.

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