- Reference number
- Balen, Hendrik van (Flemish); Brueghel “the Elder”, Jan (Flemish)
- Garland with the Virgin and Child
- Ca. 1621
- 48 cm x 41 cm
- On display
- Colección Real (Palacio Real Nuevo, Madrid, paso de tribuna y trascuartos, 1772, nº 955; ¿Palacio Real, Madrid, retrete a la inglesa, 1814-1818, s.n.?).
An elaborate garland of flowers, fruit and animals frames a painting representing the Virgin Mary with the Christ Chile on her right arm and a crown of flowers in her left hand.
Paintings of the Virgin framed with garlands were prized in the Flemish world, where they served as a response to the Protestant Reform that negated the validity of representations of the Virgin or of saints.
Brueghel responded to Catholic collectors' need for votive images of Mary, placing her inside garlands, where he showed his capacity to depict natural motives. Thus he joined religious images with painting that was very pleasing to the eye.
Hendrick van Balen, Brueghel's customary collaborator, painted the figures, basing them on models from Rubens.
This work was probably sent to Madrid by the infanta Isabel Clara Eugenia around 1620-1630, although there is no clear documentation of it until 1794, when it hung in Madrid's Royal Palace.