The Virgin and Child with Angels
Joos van Cleve was one of the leading artists of 16th century Antwerp. Among his patrons were the French King, Francis I, and Henry VIII of England. Originally this picture was probably the centre panel of a triptych. It shows the extremely fine detail and lustrous colouring, which could be achieved through the skilful use of oil paint by a master of the technique. The contrasting textures of glass, fur, polished marble and translucent gauze are represented with painstaking accuracy. Certain details have symbolic significance: the grapes and wine on the table suggest Christ’s blood and the celebration of the mass, while the apple beside the sleeping child is a reminder of the sin of Adam and Eve from which Christ’s death will redeem the world.