Virgin and Child

Artist: Dieric Bouts (Netherlandish, Haarlem, active by 1457–died 1475)

Date: ca. 1455–60

Medium: Oil on wood

Dimensions: 8 1/2 x 6 1/2 in. (21.6 x 16.5 cm)

Classification: Paintings

Credit Line: Theodore M. Davis Collection, Bequest of Theodore M. Davis, 1915

Accession Number: 30.95.280


Dieric Bouts has based this small, exquisite image on the ancient Byzantine formula for the affectionate Virgin (glykophilousa)—a type popular in the Netherlands. However, he has dispensed with the gold background and halo of Byzantine practice and has endowed the painting with a human tenderness and simplicity not found in icons. With his subtle and tactile modeling of the flesh, the artist heightened the illusion of living, breathing beings. Focusing on the loving relationship of a mother and her son, his portrayal emphasized human emotions and enhanced the intense inner experience of private devotion.