Master of the Plump-Cheeked Madonnas
(Active in Bruges, first quarter of the 16th century)
Virgin and Child with saints
Oil on panel, 98.4 x 129.5 cm
The anonymous master from Bruges active in the first half of the 16th century has been assigned the name of the Master of the Plump- Cheeked Madonnas. His style resembles the mature work of Gerard David and Ambrosius Benson, yet his paintings can be distinguished by the round faces of his characters, a trait by which the author was given his name. In the year 2000 this graceful altarpiece, manifesting almost divine peace, and seven other paintings were pointed out by the art historian Didier Martens as the most outstanding pieces by the Master of the Plump-Cheeked Madonnas.
This painting is the so-called sacra conversazione (holy conversation) – a format that originated from Italian Renaissance period, depicting the saints from different epochs together in one picture. The Virgin and the Infant Jesus are prominent in the centre of the scene, set against a vast, verdant landscape. Mary and the Child are attended by two male and two female saints who probably had special significance for the customers who commissioned this painting.
Vegetation in the foreground is treated in great detail; the plants and herbs are identifiable and were chosen for their symbolic significance. In this painting the artist as a true Master has sensitively bestowed the earthly beauty to the service of the spiritual world, emphasizing the rightfulness of religious convictions.
Important private collection, Zürich, Switzerland
Exhibition’s catalogue “Art Rules”, Tallinn, 2015
Kunstberatung Zurich. Old masters and Modern art catalogue: private treasures, Zurich, 2019
Exhibition “Art Rules” organized by Art-Life Project in Tallinn Town Hall, 5 June 2015 – 5 October 2015, Estonia