UNKNOWN MASTER, Flemish
(active 1470-80 in Brussels)
Madonna with Donor and St Mary Magdalenec. 1475
Oil on panel, 56 x 49 cm
Musée d'Art Religieux et d'Art Mosan, Liège
The most original painter of the late 15th century, known to us today as the Master of the View of St Gudule, certainly knew the original of the St Luke Madonna (Museum of Fine Arts, Boston), which had probably been created as an altarpiece for the Brussels painters' guild. In his Madonna with Donor and St Mary Magdalene, he drew on the older painting for its colouring as well as its composition; he obviously liked such details as the green-bordered red-gold cloth of honour. In placing the donor with her prie-dieu where St Luke had been, the painter of these elegant figures almost found his way back to the work that was Rogier's own point of departure, Jan van Eyck's Rolin Madonna (Louvre, Paris). The painter uses a style based on brilliant effects of colour and very artificial, almost affected figures. The figures in the garden are no longer a humble elderly couple but very fashionable young people gazing at picturesque ships.