Virgin and Child with the Massacre of the Innocents
This picture is damaged and discoloured. As a result the brown underpainting of the Virgin’s dress shows through the glazes of oil paint, producing a greenish tinge. It originally would have been light blue. In the background children are being killed - the Massacre of the Innocents – as ordered by King Herod in an attempt to put to death the new-born Jesus. Isenbrandt and his studio made a good living in Bruges, mainly painting small religious scenes. He was made head of the town’s Guild of Sculptors in 1526 and 1537. Before William Roscoe bought this painting it was believed to be an early painting by Raphael. Roscoe realised that it was not by the great Italian Renaissance artist. He attributed it instead to Ridolfo Ghirlandaio, one of Raphael’s artist friends and occasional assistant between 1504 and 1508. The pose of the Christ Child is close to one in a painting by Raphael, which Ridolfo is supposed to have finished. The painting was only attributed for stylistic reasons to the Bruges-based artist Isenbrandt in the 1930s. Before then it had been attributed to the North Netherlandish painter Jan Mostaert (born about 1475, died 1555 or 1556).