EYCK, Jan van
(b. before 1395, Maaseik, d. before 1441, Bruges)
Madonna and Child at the Fountain1439
Oil on wood, 19 x 12 cm
Koninklijk Museum voor Schone Kunsten, Antwerp
The small panel is signed and dated on a marbled frame: 'IOH(ann)ES DE EYCK ME FECIT C(om)PLEVIT AN(n)O 1439'. However, the datation is debated. The painting is assumed by some scholars to be earlier (c. 1425-30) and the 1439 is only the date of completion and framing.
The attention which Van Eyck focused upon the tender embrace of mother and child is characteristic of late-medieval devotion. The artist depicts the paradisiacal garden and other symbols of the Virgin such as the fountain, the rose and the iris. Angels hold up a gorgeous brocade cloth behind the mother and child as a symbol of honour. The symbolism of the colours used in the painting serve to heighten its spiritual message.