Tempera on wood
Musée des Beaux-Arts, Dijon
Towards 1400 the court of Burgundy was an important centre of art. Commissioned by Philippe the Bold, Duke of Burgundy, Melchior Broederlam, a native of Ypres - who, from 1384 onwards, served the Duke as "peintre et valet de chambre" - undertook the paintings on the lavishly decorated altar of the Carthusian monastery of Champmol. Left of centre the Virgin, seated at a lectern in a Gothic porch with traceried windows placed diagonally across the picture and leading to an elaborately designed building set behind it, listens to the words of the angel. This type of long, narrow building, supported on fragile columns, is to be found in the Italian paintings of Giotto's successors. The harmony connecting the natural and architectural background and the human figures, the contrast between the rigid lines of the building on the one hand, and the more picturesque curves of the mountainous landscape on the other, and the lyric beauty of the figures makes the altarpiece one of the masterpieces of Burgundian art.