The Master of Saint Giles, first identified by Hugo von Tschudi in 1893, derives his name from now-dispersed (National Galleries in London and Washington) altarpiece panels with scenes from the life of that saint. The artist’s corpus is based on these extant polyptych paintings. Stylistic analysis indicates a strong Netherlandish influence on this artist – particularly the work of Rogier van der Weyden and Dieric Bouts – although he must have also been active in Paris around 1500, as evidenced by his depictions of contemporary Parisian sites. Whether or not the artist’s origins are Netherlandish or French remains unknown. That the Master of Saint Giles was already employing Netherlandish compositions and techniques when he was active in Paris suggests at least that he received his initial training in the Low Countries. The artist has been connected with several documented figures including Jean Perréal (Colenbrander, 1994), Wouter de Crane (Châtelet, 2001), and Gauthier de Campes (Leproux, 2001). The Painting:
The Christ Child, resting on a white cloth that evokes the shroud in which he will be buried, gazes up toward his mother in whose arms he is supported. Mary, in turn, lowers her eyes to her infant son, inviting the viewer to share in her concentration on Jesus. Sumptuously dressed in a red mantle and gold-lined blue dress, Mary’s costume is consistent with depictions of the Virgin that emphasize her regal stature as the Mother of God. The green cloth serving as a backdrop to the holy pair is a later addition, evidenced by the presence of viridian, a pigment developed in the mid-nineteenth century. The heavily abraded dragonfly, a significant iconographic adjustment from the Bouts models as discussed below, reminds the viewer of Christ’s triumph over the devil and the protective power of the Virgin and Child. The significance of this motif is underscored by the insect’s dual entrapment in Christ’s fingers and also by the thread he holds.Relationship to Boutsian models:
Compositionally, the painting relies on the work of Dieric Bouts (active by 1457 – died 1475), an artist whose images of the Virgin and Child were popular in the fifteenth century. This influence can be seen, for instance, when we compare Bouts’s Virgin and Child
in the Met’s Linsky collection (1982.60.16
) to the Lehman painting, demonstrating that the latter borrows the figure of the Virgin but in reverse. In fact, below the paint surface is an initial composition of the same subject, visible in both the underdrawn forms as well as in early paint layers. This design, too, derives from Boutsian models. Ainsworth convincingly proposed that the first underdrawn Boutsian design was a tracing, taken from a model drawing within the Master of Saint Giles’ workshop, as an explanation for the seemingly unusual choice of paper as support. By setting an oiled – and thus partially transparent – paper over an existing drawing, the initial design can be traced onto the oiled sheet. The underdrawing of the Lehman Virgin and Child
is restricted to the figures. At this initial stage, Christ’s proper right arm hung at his side; his fingers are clearly visible in the infrared reflectogram (fig. 1). The reflectogram also shows his proper left leg bent at an awkward angle close to his torso. More difficult to assess are the changes between the underdrawn hands of the Virgin and the final painted forms.
Alterations made between the underdrawing and early paint layers and the final composition are due to the painter astutely identifying and correcting areas of stiffness or awkwardness in the design. To achieve a more active and anatomically accurate Christ Child, the painter moved his proper right hand so that it bends across his chest, further emphasizing his firm hold on the dragonfly's string. He also extended Jesus's proper left leg so that it more convincingly crosses his right limb. Another Bouts composition, known now through copies, the best-preserved version of which is in the Statens Museum for Kunst, Copenhagen (fig. 2), provided the model for these adjustments. Sterling and Ainsworth’s proposal that the Master of Saint Giles had "an exact pattern for the figure of the Christ Child in hand" can be substantiated further. The design for the Lehman underdrawing was also used for a painting currently housed at the Fondation Bemberg in Toulouse (fig. 3). This painting, which, at first glance appears identical to the Lehman Virgin and Child
, is incorrectly attributed to Rogier van der Weyden’s workshop by Cros. Executed on paper, the Toulouse painting (10 5/8 x 7 31/64 or 27 x 19 cm) is very similar in dimensions to the Lehman work (10 1/2 x 7 1/8 in. or 26.6 x 18.2 cm), thus providing further evidence in support of Ainsworth’s hypothesis that works on paper developed into paintings were transferred from an existing – in this case shared – model. The artist of the Toulouse picture, less creative than the Master of Saint Giles, did not make the compositional revisions to his underdrawing, preferring instead to adhere to the initial plan.Attribution and Dating:
From its earliest mentions in the twentieth century scholarly literature, the Virgin and Child
is attributed to the Master of Saint Giles, called the Master of the Saint Aegidius Legend (Aegidius the Latin for Giles). The thicker, more opaque paint application in the figures of the Virgin and Child correspond with the master’s eponymous panels in Washington and London, executed in Paris around 1500, as do the compositional alterations made between initial underdrawing and paint stages and the final image. Furthermore, x-radiography and infrared reflectography reveal a thinner ground application at the painting’s upper right corner, indicating the possibility of an originally arch-topped format, consistent with other works by the Master of Saint Giles. Convincingly, Sterling and Ainsworth propose that the use of late Boutsian Virgin and Child
models, combined with the thicker, more opaque paint application, place the Lehman painting in a transitional period between the Master of Saint Giles’s Netherlandish training and his early Parisian output around the turn of the sixteenth century. Further research on the relationship between the Master of Saint Giles and Dieric Bouts’ workshop, given tantalizingly brief notice by Julius Held, deserves greater attention.
Nenagh Hathaway, 2019
 Whether or not a cloth of honor existed below the current viridian addition has not been established. See Technical Notes in Refs., Sterling and Ainsworth, 1998, p. 18.
 For a discussion of the dragonfly’s iconography see Refs., Sterling and Ainsworth, 1998, p. 23.
 See Sterling and Ainsworth for a list of Bouts’s compositions adapted by the Master of Saint Giles. Ibid., pp. 21-22 and, for the reversal of the Boutsian Virgin figure Refs., Ainsworth in Ainsworth and Christiansen, 1998, p. 228.
 The various correspondences between Virgin and Child
compositions by Dieric Bouts and the Lehman painting’s initial and final designs is discussed at length in Sterling and Ainsworth’s 1998 entry, as are the specific adjustments the Saint Giles master made to his models. See Refs., Sterling and Ainsworth, 1998, pp. 19-24. Lorne Campbell suggested that the Master of Saint Giles employed more than one underdrawing material in his eponymous panels, some of which does not appear in the reflectograms. This may explain why the Lehman underdrawing appears somewhat cursory. Lorne Campbell, The Sixteenth Century Netherlandish Paintings with French Paintings Before 1600
. Vol. 2. London, 2014, p. 785.
 See Refs., Ainsworth, 1999, pp. 251-257.
 The suggestion, put forward by Sterling and Ainsworth, that the Virgin held a fruit (apple?) in the first composition is unconvincing, particularly in light of the Toulouse composition, the discussion of which follows. Refs., Sterling and Ainsworth, 1998, p. 21.
 Sterling and Ainsworth identified the now-lost Bouts Virgin and Child
and the Copenhagen painting as the model for the final painted version of the Lehman picture, particularly the figure of Christ. See Refs., Sterling and Ainsworth, 1998, p. 21-22.
 Ibid., p. 21.
 The author is indebted to Maryan Ainsworth for sharing her awareness of the Toulouse composition. Ainsworth, in a handwritten note, describes the similarities between the Lehman picture’s underdrawing and the Toulouse painting. See Robert Lehman Collection curatorial files, memorandum from Maryan W. Ainsworth to Larry Kanter.
 For the picture’s attribution, see Philippe Cros, Fondation Bemberg: peintures anciennes de Cranach à Tiepolo
, Somogy, Paris, 2000, pp. 89-90.
 A comparison between an infrared reflectogram of the Toulouse Virgin and Child
with the Lehman picture would help to clarify this potential shared relationship to a drawn prototype.
 Max J. Friedländer connected the Lehman painting to the Master of Saint Giles on a photograph’s reverse (1 May 1911) in a handwritten comment. This attribution predates Friedländer’s first publication on the artist (1912-13). See Refs., Sterling and Ainsworth, 1998, n. 4.
 See Refs., Sterling and Ainsworth, 1998, pp. 20, 22 and n. 5.
 As Sterling and Ainsworth note, a large area of loss in the upper left-hand corner makes it impossible to assess whether it too possessed a similar thin ground layer. See Technical Notes in Refs., Sterling and Ainsworth, 1998, p. 18.
 Ibid. p. 23.
 Julius S. Held, "Little-Known French Paintings of the Fifteenth Century", The Burlington Magazine
94, no. 589 (1952): 107-108. References:
Robert Lehman. The Philip Lehman Collection, New York: Paintings
. Paris, 1928, no. 89.
August L. Mayer. "Die Sammlung Philip Lehman." Pantheon
5 (1930): p. 116.
Max J. Friedländer. "Le Maître de Saint Gilles." Gazette des Beaux-Arts
, ser. 6, 17 (1937): pp. 222, 230, no. 5, fig. 11.
Grete Ring. A Century of French Painting, 1400-1500
. London, 1949, p. 231, no. 245.
Theodore Allen Heinrich. "The Lehman Collection." The Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin
12 (April, 1954): p. 222 (as ca. 1490).
Robert Lehman. The Robert Lehman Collection
. , p. 18.
George Szabó. The Robert Lehman Collection: A Guide
. New York, 1975, p. 89, pl. 68.
Katharine Baetjer. European Paintings in The Metropolitan Museum of Art by Artists Born in or before 1865: A Summary Catalogue
. New York, 1980, p. 120, ill. P. 473.
Charles Sterling. La peinture médéviale à Paris, 1300 -1500
Vol. 2, 1990, pp. 300-302, no. 31, fig. 267 (color).
Katharine Baetjer. European Paintings in The Metropolitan Museum of Art by Artists Born before 1865: A Summary Catalogue
. New York, 1995, p. 351, ill.
Charles Sterling and Maryan Ainsworth in The Robert Lehman Collection. Vol. 2, Fifteenth- to Eighteenth-Century European Paintings
. New York, 1998, p. 122-124, ill. pp. 18-24, ill. P. 19.