(b. 1410/20, Baarle, d. 1475/76, Brugge)

The Virgin of the Dry Tree

c. 1460
Oil on panel, 17 x 12 cm
Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza, Madrid

This small panel is a puzzling composition which conceals a complex symbolism. The painting is a late work by Christus, who from 1462 was a member of the Brotherhood of Our Lady of the Dry Tree. The dry and thorny branches could be a prefiguration of the Crown of Thorns, but the painting has also been interpreted as an early representation of the Immaculate Conception. The hanging letter A's symbolize fifteen Ave Marias.