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The Virgin and Child with a Cistercian Nun
Unknown Painter around 1525, style of Joachim Patinir
The painting is said to resemble a lot of Patinir’s technique and style. And as he was a pioneer of specialist landscape painting in his time, it should be partially his work or of his workshop. He died young, and may be this was finished after his death by his men.
Well known as partner in his artisan workshp is Quinten Massys, he apparently supplied figures for some of Patinir’s landscapes; after Patinir’s premature death Massys became the guardian of his children and it can be presumed that he also finished the works who were ordered by donors.
And the nun in this picture is identified as one of his donors. And as it is and was usual by portraitists who place the depicted client into an allegoric scene, the background tells a story about the client.
These small figures in the populated background are enacting a specific story, sometimes from the Bible or the lives of the saints, but in this picture it is a water mill, a farmhouse and some peasants. A sheepherder and his flock. People in a boat. We can only speculate about the connection between the donor and this scene. She might be the only heir to a wealthy family, didn’t get married, went into a convent and took the oath. The painting shows this dedication to the Virgin and her former legacy, now estate of the convent. This could be symbolized in the Holy Child giving her a chaplet as her rosary. And her new life in the foreground behind a wall, separated from the outside world, but not closed. And the lonely tree, place for the free birds to settle is the only one with autumn coloring, showing an early end of the easygoingness of summer.
Paulo Coelho (* 24. August 1947 in Rio de Janeiro) http://bit.ly/1vxIEsF
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