The Virgin and Child

Image credit: The National Gallery, London

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In this small arched painting, the Virgin Mary is seated on a grey stone bench surrounded by a wooden frame. She wears a red mantle and uses both hands to gently restrain the naked Christ Child as he leaps forward with his arms outstretched.

Once thought to be by a follower or even a late copy after Jean Gossart, in the 1990s we realised that this small painting is the original of a famous image by the artist, of which several versions survive. Up till then it was covered in discoloured and degraded varnish, and was heavily overpainted. When the painting was cleaned its exceptional quality became apparent.

The delicacy of handling in such details as Christ’s head and the fingernails of his right hand shows extraordinary skill. The letters of the inscription and their shadows are a triumph of the imaginative reconstruction of the fall of light and shadow over convex metal and wood.

The National Gallery, London



The Virgin and Child




Oil on oak


H 30.7 x W 24.3 cm

Accession number


Acquisition method

Bought, 1860

Work type



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Normally on display at

The National Gallery, London

Trafalgar Square, London, Greater London WC2N 5DN England

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