UNKNOWN MASTER, Flemish
(active 1530s in Antwerp)
Virgin and Child with the Veil1531
Oil on oak panel, 86 x 69 cm
This composition, showing a playful Christ Child, who lifts his mother's veil in a game of peekaboo, was conceived by Jan Gossart. It became very popular in many versions produced by other artists at the end of Gossart's life and thereafter. These variants differ in size, shape, background design - whether interior or landscape - and in the poses of the figures.
By far the most popular of these variants was a version in which the legs of the Christ Child are crossed. The present nonautograph example of this version was signed IOANNES MALBODIVS PINGEBAT and originally dated 1531. Although Gossart may have produced such a variant late in his lifetime, it is equally possible that the signature and date refer to Gossart's fame and a modification of his design that was in mass production about that date in Antwerp.