DAVID, Gerard
(b. ca. 1460, Oudewater, d. 1523, Bruges)

Virgin and Child Enthroned, with Angels

1490-95
Oil on panel, 99 x 65 cm
Museum of Art, Philadelphia

Gerard David presents the Virgin enthroned as the Queen of Heaven, and uses simple, monumental forms to underscore the majestic solemnity of her presence. As queen, the Virgin is seated upon an ornately carved throne that is shaded by an embroidered canopy and backed by a shimmering, brocaded cloth of honour; at her feet lies a luxurious carpet with an orientalizing design. The angels wear robes made of shot, or changeant, silk, so called because its colour differs depending on the angle from which it is viewed. The celebratory nature of the moment is emphasized by the harp and the lute held by the angels, which allude to the celestial music surrounding the Virgin and Child. All of these severe and formal regal adornments are counterbalanced by the intimacy of the scene, which focuses on the interaction of the mother and child, and his playful attention to the leaves of her prayer book.