UNKNOWN MASTER, German
(active c. 1522 in Saxony)

Virgin and Child on a Grassy Bank

1522
Oil on panel, 86 x 59 cm
Private collection

This German High Renaissance panel shows the Virgin Mary seated on a grassy bank with the Christ Child standing on her lap. She tenderly offers Him some grapes, while behind them the sunlit landscape spreads out past a single tree, leading across lakeside houses and bridges and pastures towards a distant hill top castle.

Stylistically, this painting has always been closely associated with the work of Lucas Cranach the Elder, and there can be little doubt that its author must have been closely acquainted with his work and may well have trained in his workshop. Iconographically the composition, with the Virgin seated full-length in a landscape, was derived in German art from the earlier work of Martin Schongauer and particularly Albrecht Dürer, who had both explored the theme in a series of woodcuts and engravings from the 1480s onwards.

This painting was part of the Barbara Piasecka Johnson Collection, and after the death of the collector it was sold through Sotheby's in July 2014. Profit from the sale goes to the Barbara Piasecka Johnson Foundation for Autistic Children created in 1974. The anonymous painter of this extraordinary panel is referred to as the Master of the Piasecka Johnson Madonna.




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