Virgin and Child

Dieric Bouts Netherlandish

On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 605

Bouts based this small, exquisite image on the ancient Byzantine formula for the affectionate Virgin (glykophilousa)—a type popular in the Netherlands. However, he dispensed with the gold background and halo of Byzantine practice and endowed the painting with a human tenderness and simplicity not found in icons. With his subtle and tactile modeling of the flesh, the artist heightened the illusion of living, breathing beings. Focusing on the loving relationship between a mother and her son, his portrayal emphasized human emotions and enhanced the intense inner experience of private devotion.

Virgin and Child, Dieric Bouts (Netherlandish, Haarlem, active by 1457–died 1475), Oil on wood

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