2012: Advent Art History: The Naked Baby Jesus Advent Calendar, December 10

by on December 10, 2012

Virgin and Child with Saints Barbara and Elizabeth and the donor, Jan Vos

Jan van Eyck

1441-3

Oil on panel

Here’s a detail of the Virgin and Child:

We’re back to Jan van Eyck again today simply because he was one of the finest painters of his generation (arguably of the whole of western art history), and this is one of his lesser known works.

The title also works as a good description. The painting shows the donor Jan Vos being presented to the Virgin and Child by St Barbara and St Elizabeth.

The thing they’re standing under is a canopy, and the fabric behind them is a cloth of honour. This was a standard way of signifying the importance of religious figures. The cloth of honour was used in royal and noble courts, and in the houses of the very wealthy.

You might be wondering about the folds in the cloth. This is also noticeable on clothing in some of the images we’ll look at. This was due to the way that clothes were stored at the time, and was another indication of status. Reason being, if your clothes have that kind of sharp and regular crease along them, then you can evidently afford to store them flat in chests.

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