UNKNOWN MASTER, German
(active around 1420 in Westphalia)
Virgin and Child with Angelsc. 1420
Tempera on walnut panel, 68 x 59 cm
Szépművészeti Múzeum, Budapest
The figure is cut in half, yet its sweeping Gothic lines are evident. The Virgin, surrounded by angels and wearing a gorgeous crown glittering with pearls and gems impersonates a remarkable type, namely the Madonna of the writing Christ Child. In her right she holds an inkhorn, a penholder is hanging from her wrist by a thin red cord; with an engaging gesture the Child catches hold of his mother's robe while obviously striving to get hold of the inkstand. In his other hand the Child holds a band covered with an illegible text; similar representations usually contain words which become Christ the teacher. Therefore the motive is a product of the endeavour manifested in various ways towards the close of the Middle Ages to associate the attributes of the adult Christ with the Infant Jesus.
The colouring is simple, but the garments are sumptuous as befits the queen of heaven and her retinue of angels, though the glitter of gold is seen only on their Lady. The angel plucking the strings of his lute with a lightly bent feather is wearing a cloak with an elaborate ornamental pattern obviously derived from garments seen on the most stylishly apparelled notabilities, while the silky locks of all the figures falling in rich curls bear evidence of the high standards of hair-dressing in that age.