(b. ca. 1365, Nijmegen, d. 1415, Dijon)

Large Round Pietà

Wood, diameter 64 cm
Musée du Louvre, Paris

Malouel was a Flemish artist who from 1397 was a court painter to Philip the Bold and John the Fearless, dukes of Burgundy. He was commissioned to paint 5 altarpieces for the Chartreuse of Champmol in 1398 and was one of the earliest panel painters of North Europe.

This Pietà received its name due to the fact that the Louvre possesses a smaller Pietà of the same style.

Seated against a golden background God the Father supports the lifeless, bleeding body of the dead Christ in his arms. With yearning eyes the Virgin bids farewell to her Son, clasping his arm with both hands. Behind her the figure of St John the Evangelist in a red robe completes the composition, his fair head following the line of the circular frame. On the left of God the Father and the dead Christ small angels in blue and red robes express their sorrow. One of them embraces the knee of Christ, the other one holds the transparent white veil covering the lower part of his body. The pale and grey ivory of Christ's body is set off by the more vivid, richer colours of the other figures. The delicate interplay of the fingers and hands is particularly to be admired. The coat of arms of Burgundy appears on the reverse of the panel, and it can therefore be assumed that the picture was made for the court of Burgundy; perhaps for the Chartreuse de Champmol of Dijon.

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