(b. ca. 1478, Maubeuge, d. 1532, Middelburg)

St Luke Drawing the Virgin

Oil on oak panel, 110 x 82 cm
Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna

The scene was a favourite subject of the late Gothic German and Netherlandish masters. This painting, one of the greatest by Gossart, is a departure from traditional Netherlandish representation of the subject. It was inspired by Italian art and reformulated in Gossart's manner. The setting is a Renaissance hall decorated with grotesque pilasters bearing classical medallions copied from Roman coinage. In the background there is a tempietto adorned with the statue of Moses. St Luke, kneeling at a prie-dieu, makes a metalpoint drawing of the Virgin, appearing in a vision before him. He is guided by the hand of an angel.

A number of Italian sources have been suggested in the literature as possible prototypes, including Raphael's Tempi Madonna, Fra Bartolomeo's Vision of St Bernard, and Filippino Lippi's Annunciation.

Gossart painted two versions of the subject, this is the later one, the first is in Prague. A remarkable innovation of the second version is that the Madonna is not a sitter of the portrait painting, she appears as a vision of St Luke.

© Web Gallery of Art, created by Emil Krén and Daniel Marx.