The Virgin and Child, The Master of the Magdalene Legend (active c. 1481 – c. 1513), c. 1500

The Virgin and Child

The Master of the Magdalene Legend (active c. 1481 – c. 1513)
The Virgin and Child

Oil and gold on panel, in an integral frame
c. 1500


41.9 cm; 16½ in.
31.1 cm; 12¼ in.


Eduardo Lucas Moreno Collection, Paris, by 1935
With Robert Finck, Brussels, 1970
With Rafael Valls, London, by 1991
Private collection, Jersey


Hôtel des ducs de Rohan, Paris, Exposition de l’Art Religieux d’Aujourd’hui, 3 May-11 June 1934, no. 1587

Related literature

M. J. Friedländer, Early Netherlandish Painting (A. W. Sijthoff, Leyden, 1975), Vol. XII, pp. 13-17, 90-95, 130, 133-134, pls. 1-27

This superb small work in outstanding original condition, rounded at the top in one piece within an integral arched frame, illustrates the transition from primitive Flemish painting to the art of the pre-Renaissance.

The composition, layout and gilded background with black spots are derived from a tradition established by Roger van der Weyden (1400 – 1464) and Hugo van der Goes (c.1440 – 1482). There is, however, a more marked sweetness in the faces of the Virgin and Christ Child. Iconographic changes include the representation of the Christ Child in a shirt and the presence of an exotic bird picking cherries.

Named after panels from a dispersed triptych detailing the legend of the Magdalene – Saint Mary Magdalene Washing the Saviour’s Feet, Saint Mary Magdalene Preaching (the interior of the right shutter) and Saint Mary Magdalene Hunting (the interior of the left shutter) (see Friedländer, op. cit., pls. 7-9 (fg. 10)) – the Master was identified by Hulin de Loo with Vranckx van der Stockt (1420? – 1495), van der Weyden’s successor as official painter of the city of Brussels. However, Max J. Friedländer believed that the Master of the Magdalene Legend was Pieter van Coninxloo (c.1460 – c.1530), an artist who was in close contact with the Burgundian court. The Coninxloo family, from Brussels, produced many painters and was related, by marriage to the van Orley family. Born in 1460 at the latest, Pieter worked in Brussels between 1481 and 1513, and possibly also in Mechlin.

In his catalogue of November 1970, Robert Finck records that, in a certificate issued in Berlin on 1 January 1926, Friedländer opined that the present painting is a typical work by the Master of the Magdalene Legend ‘in mint condition’.

We are grateful to Dr. Helene Mund for confirming the attribution to the Master of the Magdalene Legend based on first hand examination of the work.

SOLD: Private collection, France