Tempera on wood
Musée des Beaux-Arts, Dijon
The picture shows a detail of the left wing of the Dijon Altarpiece.
The Visitation is not a literal rendering of the Bible story. Broederlam gives us the essence of St Luke's text: Mary, already pregnant with the Infant Jesus, meets her cousin Elizabeth who, although supposedly barren, is now by the grace of God expecting a child in her old age. In the painting, the two women are depicted side by side. Mary wears a large blue cloak which she gathers round herself with one hand, while with her free hand she gestures towards Elizabeth. The older woman is dressed in red and green, her head veiled in a fine white material. Although the painter has followed the Scriptures by setting the scene in a mountainous landscape, according to the Gospel the two women meet inside Zacharias's house and not as here, outdoors, in the shadow of a steep rocky cliff.