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The Virgin nursing the Child
Reymerswale, Marinus van
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Reymerswale, Marinus van

Reimerswaal (Netherlands), 1489 - Goes (Netherlands), 1546

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The Virgin nursing the Child

Ca. 1530. Oil on panel.
Room 057A

Marinus has depicted the Virgin nursing the Child in a domestic interior. Both figures are shown without halos, turning the representation into an image of the tender relationship between a mother and her child in the viewer’s own time and place. This iconography already appeared in the early fifteenth century and was used especially for images intended for private devotion. During the later Middle Ages iconic depictions of the Mother of God and her child according to the early Christian tradition were transformed into humanised pictures of benevolence that highlight the role of the Virgin Mary as mediator between the faithful and God by bringing her closer to the beholder. The idea of drawing the sacred scene nearer to its viewers by means of a representation that is set in their own time is also reflected in the life-like depiction of the infant Jesus, whose bulging cheeks and half-closed eyes are intended to emulate the appearance of a newborn child.

The painting bears the monogram of Albrecht Dürer together with the date of 1511. Both were added before the painting arrived in Spain. It must have entered the collection of Charles IV as a work by the German Renaissance master and continued to be catalogued as such in the inventory of the Royal Palace in 1814. Gustav Friedrich Waagen believed it to be the work of Jan Massys (c. 1509-1575). The attribution to Marinus was first proposed in the collection catalogue of 1873 and has been accepted ever since. It is one of the only two known depictions of the Virgin and Child that have been attributed to Van Reymerswale. It is one of the only two known depictions of the Virgin and Child that have been attributed to Van Reymerswale. Both paintings show that he adopted motifs from the works of Albrecht Dürer (1471-1528) circulating in prints, which he combined with iconographic patterns that were popular in Flanders. Unlike his successful compositions of ‘tax collectors’, no other version of this composition is known. Marinus most likely painted it on commission or in an attempt to establish himself as a painter of religious subjects as well.

The connection to Dürer’s models is evident in the position of the Christ Child, who appears lying on his back on a white cloth and turning his head towards his mother while she holds her breast between her index and middle fingers. A drawing by Dürer in Vienna dated 1512 (inv. 4848) shows the child in a similar pose; the position of the Virgin’s hands with their spread fingers is also similar. It has been proposed that the relatively large sheet in Vienna is a preparatory drawing for an unexecuted or lost painting, and served as a partial model for the full-length representation of the Virgin and Child known as the Madonna with the Iris in the National Gallery in London. Since Marinus used Dürer’s models as a source of inspiration for his own work, it is likely that the false monogram was added already in the sixteenth century, maybe even by the painter himself. While the Child’s pose and to a certain extent also the sharp contouring and precise shading of the Virgin’s downcast gaze suggest that Marinus was using (printed) models by Dürer, the painting’s execution recalls the stylistic tradition of Quinten Massys (1466–1530). Unlike Quinten or his son Jan, however, Marinus emphasised the irregularity of the face instead of rounding it off with soft and straightened contours.

Bearing in mind that it is not known when Marinus began to work as a painter and that the proximity of his style to that of Quinten Massys makes contact between the two artists before 1530 probable, it is proposed that on stylistic grounds the painting be dated no later than the first half of the 1530s (Christine Seidel in Marinus. Painter from Reymerswale, Museo Nacional del Prado, 2021, pp. 91-93).


Technical data

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Inventory number
Reymerswale, Marinus van
The Virgin nursing the Child
Ca. 1530
Height: 61 cm; Width: 46 cm
Royal Collection (Acquired by Charles IV in 1780; inventory of the Real Monasterio de San Lorenzo del Escorial in 1787; transferred to the Palacio Real, Madrid, where it is listed in 1814; upon the death of Ferdinand VII (1833) it entered the Real Museo de Pinturas, Madrid, in 1834)

Bibliography +

Waagen, G.F, Über in Spanien vorhandende Bilder, Miniaturen und Handzeichnungen, Jahrbücher für Kunstwissenschaft, 1, 1868, pp. 33-55 [5 nt.3].

Madrazo, Pedro de, Catálogo de los cuadros del Museo del Prado de Madrid, Madrid, 1873, pp. 17-18, 257-258 nº 1423.

Hymans, H, Marin le Zelandais, de Romerswael, Bulletin de l’Academie royale des sciences des lettres et
des beaux-arts de Belgique.
, VII, 1884, pp. 211-220 [218].

Firmenich-Richartz, E, 'Ein Madonnenbild näch Dürers vorlagen von Marinus van Roymerswale', Zeitschrift für Christliche Kunst, 19, 1906, pp. 1-10 [8].

Cohen, W, Marinus van Roymerswaele in Les Arts anciens de Flandre, II, Brujas, 1906, pp. 153-164 [161-163].

Fierens-Gevaert, Hippolyte, Les primitifs flamands, Librairie National d'Art et Histoire, Bruselas, 1912, pp. 274.

Sánchez Cantón, Francisco Javier y Beroqui, Pedro, Inventarios Reales en 12 Volumenes y Un Indice (Fotocopias) (procedencia/provenanace), 1923.

Held, J, Dürers wirking auf die niederländische kunst seiner zeit, La Haya, 1931, pp. 85.

Zarco Cuevas, Julian, Cuadros reunidos por Carlos IV, siendo Príncipe, en su Casa de campo de El Escorial., Imprenta del Monasterio, El Escorial, 1934, pp. 398.

Friedländer, Max J., Die altniederlandische malerei, XII, Paul Cassirer, Berlín, 1935, pp. p.183, nº. 161.

Hoogewerff, G.J., De Noord-Nederlandsche schilderkunst, IV, Nijhoff, The Hague, 1941-1942, pp. 194, 454–472.

Lotthe, E., La pensee Chretienne dans la peinture flamande et hollandaise de Van Eyck a Rembrandt (1432-1669), II, Rijssel, 1947, pp. 133.

Milkers, Anne, Omtrent Marinus van Reymerswaele, Gante, 1990, pp. 117-122 y 159-160.

Anes, Gonzalo, Las colecciones reales y la fundación del Museo del Prado, Amigos del Museo del Prado, Madrid, 1996, pp. 150.

Silva Maroto, Pilar, Pintura flamenca de los siglos XV y XVI: guía, Museo del Prado, Aldeasa, Madrid, 2001, pp. 212.

Rodríguez Peinado, Laura, La Virgen de la leche, Revista digital de iconografía medieval, 9, 2013.

Pérez Preciado, José Juan, ''Restituir la paternidad de algunas tablas muy bellas''. Sobre las atribuciones históricas de la pintura neerlandesa antigua en el Museo del Prado (1819-1912)., Boletín del Museo del Prado, XXXII, 2014, pp. 13.

Pérez Preciado, J.J, '«Antes morir que discutir». Sobre las atribuciones históricas de lapintura neerlandesa antigua en el Museo del Prado (1912-33)', Boletín del Museo del Prado., XXXVII 55-57, 2019-2021, pp. 190-211 [210].

Seidel, Christine, 'Marinus van Reymerswale. La Virgen de la leche' En:, Marinus: pintor de Reymerswale, Museo Nacional del Prado, Madrid, 2021, pp. 91-92 nº. 2.

Alba, L. Jover, M Gayo, M. D, Marinus: aproximación a la técnica del pintor y su taller, En Marinus: pintor de Reymerswale, Museo Nacional del Prado,, Madrid, 2021, pp. 71-85.

Other inventories +

Inv. Real Museo, 1857. Núm. 1011.
Alberto Durero / 1011. La virgen dando el pecho al niño Jesús. (Tabla.) / Alto 2 pies, 2 pulg; ancho 1 pie, 7 pulg, 6 lin.

Catálogo Museo del Prado, 1854-1858. Núm. 1011.

Catálogo Museo del Prado, 1872-1907. Núm. 1423.

Catálogo Museo del Prado, 1910. Núm. 2101.

Catálogo Museo del Prado, 1942-1996. Núm. 2101.

Museo Real de Pinturas a la muerte de Fernando VII, 1834. Núm. 497.
Entrada a las Escuelas Francesa y Alemana Tercra División de la Gran Galeria [...] Cuatro cientos noventa y siete. La Virgen dando el Pecho al niño Jesús de Durero o Durer Tª 3.080

Inv. Fernando VII, Palacio Nuevo, 1814-1818. Núm. s. n..
Primera pieza de la obra nueva [...] {21314} Vara de alto mas de dos tercias de ancho, Nuestra Señora dando de mamar al Niño = Alberto Durero

Inscriptions +

Inscribed in white. Front, lower left corner

Inscribed in orange. Front, lower left corner

1511 / AD [fecha y falso monograma de Durero]
Inscribed. Front, right side

Exhibitions +

Marinus. Painter from Reymerswale
09.03.2021 - 13.06.2021

Location +

Room 057A (On Display)


Displayed objects +

Basketry: Cesto de costura


Update date: 03-02-2022 | Registry created on 28-04-2015

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