MASTER of Female Half-lengths
(active 1530-1540 in Antwerp)

Madonna and Child

c. 1530
Oil on panel, 53 x 42 cm
The Hermitage, St. Petersburg

The content of the dish toward which Jesus reaches are symbolically significant: grapes represent Christ's earthly nature and his death on the cross for the redemption of human sins, and cherries stand for the Resurrection and the promise of paradise for righteous Christians. Behind Mary's back lies an authentic and expressive Netherlandish landscape, with thatched cottages, a village square and mill, a bird trap, a horseman, and old man carrying a child on his shoulders, and a woman washing laundry in a river.