FROMENT, Nicolas
(b. ca. 1435, Uzes, d. ca. 1486, Avignon)

The Burning Bush

Wood, 410 x 305 cm
Cathedrale Saint Sauveur, Aix-en-Provence

This work of Froment's maturity, which is indeed an epitome of his whole oeuvre, was commissioned by King René of Provence. This central panel of the triptych represents Moses before the Burning Bush; the figures kneeling in prayer on the wing are the donor and his wife, Jeanne de Laval, accompanied by saints (not reproduced here). In this work the painter has abandoned the occasional crudities of The Raising of Lazarus; only in the countenance of Moses are there reminiscences of the more rigid portraiture of the earlier altarpiece. Moses is struck with astonishment at the vision before him and the appearance of the angel. The vision occupies the upper centre of the picture: amidst a great circle of flaming rose bushes the Madonna appears in a richly draped mantle, holding the Child. Christ holds a mirror in his hand, in which both of them are reflected. The picture contains a number of emblematical representations. The combination of a number of unusual elements side by side is characteristic of mediaeval symbolism. It is evidence of the extraordinary cult of the Virgin in the Middle Ages that it is she who appears before Moses, and not God, as in the Old Testament.