The Holy Family with Angels

WAG 1231


Part of the double-winged altarpiece painted for the church of St John the Baptist in Luneberg, which is an important example of northern German Gothic brick architecture. This painting shows the Virgin Mary holding the infant Jesus on her knee with her husband St Joseph by her side. Behind them are two winged angels. This panel once formed part of the same altarpiece as The Family of Mary Salome, on display nearby. Together they emphasise the social significance of family, a popular theme in Northern Renaissance art. The thrones on which they sit highlight the influence of women in Jesus’s family as mothers and educators. This image shows God crowning Mary as the Queen of Heaven. This event is not described in the Bible but was a popular subject in art. This work was once part of the top of a larger altarpiece. The elaborate decoration on the frame is not fully original. It was probably altered in the 19th century. This is one of the artworks presented by the Liverpool Royal Institution. Liverpool’s economic development grew directly from Britain’s involvement with transatlantic slavery: the kidnapping, enslavement and forced migration of people from West Africa to the Americas and many to the Caribbean. Many members of the Royal Institution made their fortunes directly through the trade or indirectly through the wider economy. This wealth was largely how they were able to bring rare art and treasures, such as this, to the city.