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The Virgin nursing the Child
Master of the Luna Family
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Master of the Luna Family

(Spain), 1483, 1495

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The Virgin nursing the Child

Ca. 1490. Mixed method on panel.
Not on display

The artist of this panel is traditionally referred to as the Master of the Luna Family, whom Post first identified in 1933 as one of the two painters who produced the altarpiece for the chapel of Saint James the Apostle in Toledo Cathedral, founded by Don Álvaro de Luna. It was the latter`s daughter, María de Luna, Duchess of El Infantado, who contracted the altarpiece on 21 December 1488 from the architect Pedro de Gumiel (ca. 1460-ca. 1519) of Alcalá de Henares, who must have produced the designs, and the painters Sancho de Zamora and Juan Rodríguez de Segovia (doc. 1483-1497) from Guadalajara, which was part of the Mendoza estates. In 1955 José Gudiol assumed that Juan Rodríguez de Segovia was the Luna Master, given that the artist worked for the Duke of El Infantado in his palace at Guadalajara between 1484 and 1485. However, since no other documented work survives that allows us to separate this artist`s style from that of Sancho de Zamora, the identification of the Master of the Luna Family as Juan Rodríguez de Segovia can only be tentative.

Although it is not known with whom this artist trained, it has been assumed that he had some indirect contact, limited to knowledge of his works, with the Master of Sopetrán (Madrid, Prado, P2575-P2578) who worked for the Mendozas before he did. The paintings attributed to the Luna Master, starting with the panels for the altarpiece in Toledo Cathedral, confirm that he had indirect access to Flemish models in Castile. Nonetheless, his relationship with the Mendoza family, which was extremely close to the court, also gave him access to some Flemish paintings, either originals or in some cases copies, of which he made use when producing his own paintings. The Master of the Luna Family made free copies of some of them, such as the Durán Virgin by Rogier van der Weyden (P2722), but even in the case of his more exact copies, for example The Virgin and Child for the altarpiece at El Muyo (Segovia), he only copied the Virgin and the Christ Child, omitting the setting. The sole exception is The Virgin and Child in the Princeton Museum into which, despite the artist`s intention to produce a copy, he introduced a number of variations. We also find an eclectic use of various different paintings at once, resulting in a highly individual type of collage derived from the originals, in which the painter used figure types taken from them rather than his own. Examples include the Virgins in the Prado and Toledo, which are based on Rogier`s Durán Virgin.

From the contract for the Don Álvaro de Luna altarpiece we know that his daughter María stipulated that it should comprise painted figures in the very elegant manner of the new art [...] delicate colours painted in oil of pleasing poses and attitudes and graceful, foreign faces. This text attests to the Duchess of El Infantado`s interest in Nordic painting. For the altarpiece in her father`s chapel, María de Luna wanted a work that was in the modern style, reflecting the ars nova as Flemish art was termed, as opposed to the antico or Renaissance art. It is thus not surprising that in order to comply with the Duchess`s wishes, for the Virgin in Toledo Cathedral the Master of the Luna Family copied the face of a Flemish painting, the Durán Virgin by Rogier, in the modern, foreign style. Nor is it surprising that he repeated this face even more precisely in the present panel in the Prado, probably on the request of his unknown patron rather than on his own initiative. In contrast to the Virgin for Toledo Cathedral, in the Prado panel the artist locates Mary in a bourgeois interior of the type notably favoured by Flemish painters. The fireplace on the right and the window on the left are found in works by the School of Tournai, both those by the Master of Flémalle and Rogier van der Weyden. These two elements can also be found, albeit in different positions, in the Annunciation by the Master of Sopetrán of around 1450-60 (Madrid, Prado, P2575), commissioned by the 1st Duke of El Infantado.

In the present work we see Mary (lacking the halo that she has in the Toledo panel), located in front of a brocade canopy, resting her feet on a brocade cushion and seated on a heavy wooden throne set on a tiled floor with a pattern similar to that in the Toledo panel, although in that work the throne is set on a semi-circular stone base, as it is in the Durán Virgin. The artist changed not only the setting but also the iconography. While in the Toledo work (as in Rogier`s Virgin) the emphasis is on Mary, crowned by an angel as Queen of Heaven, in the Prado panel the four lions that form the terminations on the chair arms make this the throne of Solomon, thus exalting both Christ as the King of Israel and his mother. When depicting the Virgin and Christ Child in the Prado panel the Luna Master made use of two works by Rogier.

He followed the Durán Virgin (also known as The Virgin in Red) by entirely swathing the Virgin`s body in a red robe, albeit without copying all its folds. These he adapted to the different position of the Christ Child and his mother, reflecting the iconography of the Virgin lactans. Mary`s face is a more exact copy of the one in the Durán Virgin, her head bending towards her son and wearing a white headdress and red mantle. As Didier Martens noted in 1998, the position of the Christ Child and the Virgin`s hands derive from Rogier`s Virgin of Roulers, a lost work but one known from numerous replicas. When studying the typology of Rogier van der Weyden`s Madonnas in 1971, Dirk De Vos referred to this half-length (derived from the Medici Madonna (Frankfurt, Städel) and to the versions of it produced in Memling`s studio.

As with the Toledo Virgin, for the four angels in the Prado panel the Master of the Luna Family looked to Dirk Bouts`s Virgin and Child with Four Angels in the Capilla Real in Granada. In 1998 Martens enumerated the different occasions on which the artist made use of that work, which must have belonged to Isabella the Catholic, although it is not mentioned in the inventories. In both the Prado panel and Bouts`s painting there are four singing angels (rather than the six in the Toledo panel), all winged, in contrast to the Bouts original. The two on the left, which are closer to Bouts, jointly hold a book while the ones on the right (their faces in different positions to the original in Granada) have a musical score.

Infrared reflectography revealed the underdrawing on this panel, in which some changes are evident. One of the most important relates to the angels on the right. As in the Toledo panel, the Luna Master drew these two angels holding a book but when he reached the painting stage he reverted to Bouts`s original. He also made changes to the position of the angels` faces, moving them both horizontally (particularly the first angel on the right, which Bouts depicts in profile) and vertically. This is also the case with the Virgin`s face.

Silva Maroto, P., 'Maestro de la Leyenda de Santa Catalina. La Crucifixión' En:. Rogier van der Weyden y los reinos de la Península Ibérica, Madrid, Museo Nacional del Prado, 2015, p.156-159 n.17


Technical data

Related artworks

The Lamentation
Mixed method on panel, Ca. 1490
Master of the Luna Family
Inventory number
Master of the Luna Family
The Virgin nursing the Child
Ca. 1490
Mixed method
Height: 112 cm; Width: 71 cm
Museo de la Trinidad, 1872

Bibliography +

Cruzada Villaamil, Gregorio, Catálogo provisional, historial y razonado del Museo Nacional de Pinturas, Madrid, 1865, pp. 245.

Angulo, D., Dos tablas castellanas en el Museo del Prado de hacia 1490, Archivo español de arte y arqueología, 3, 1927, pp. 93-94.

Post, Chandler Rathfon, A history of Spanish painting, IV, Harvard University Press, Cambridge, 1933, pp. 312.

Ars Hispaniae: historia universal del arte hispánico, IX, Plus Ultra, Madrid, 1955, pp. 338.

Salas, Xavier de, Museo del Prado. Catálogo de las pinturas, Museo del Prado, Madrid, 1972.

Museo Nacional del Prado, Catálogo de las pinturas, Museo del Prado, Madrid, 1985, pp. 800.

Díaz Padrón, Matías; Alonso Blázquez, Inmaculada, Una tabla anónima de San Antonio de Padua, restituída al Maestro de Don Alvaro de Luna, en el Museo del Prado, Boletín del Museo del Prado, VIII, 1987, pp. 5-9.

Berg Sobre, Judith, Behind the Altar Table. The Development of the Painted Retab, University of Missouri Press, Columbia, 1989, pp. 250/ lám.157.

Museo Nacional del Prado, Museo del Prado: inventario general de pinturas (II) Museo de la Trinidad, Museo del Prado, Espasa Calpe, Madrid, 1991.

Martens, Didier, Le rayonnement européen de Rogier de la Pasture (vers 1400-1464) peintre de la Ville de Bruxelles, Annales de la Societé Royale d'Archéologie de Bruxelles, 61, 1996, pp. 9-78 [61 f.23].

Martens, Didier, Metamorfosis hispánicas de una composición de Dieric Bouts, Goya: Revista de Arte, 262, 1998, pp. 3.

Alba,L. García-Máiquez, J. Gayo, M. D. Jover, M. Silva, P., Las prácticas artísticas de los pintores ''hispanoflamencos'' en la Corona de Castilla en el siglo XV, Boletín del Museo del Prado, XXXII, 2014, pp. 122-147 [140].

Silva Maroto, P., 'Maestro de la Leyenda de Santa Catalina. La Crucifixión' En:, Rogier van der Weyden y los reinos de la Península Ibérica, Museo Nacional del Prado, Madrid, 2015, pp. 156-159 n.17.

Other inventories +

Catálogo Museo de la Trinidad, 1865. Núm. 1667.
ESCUELAS EXTRANJERAS. / ESCUELAS FLAMENCA Y DE COLONIA. / LUC JACOBSZ O LÚCAS VAN LEYDE. [...] 1667. La Virgen y el Niño. / Tabla.-Al. 1,010.-An. 0,725.-Fig. m. n. / Escuela Flamenca: segunda época. Primer tercio del siglo XVI. / Sentada en un trono de arquitectura gótica de fines del siglo XV, está la Santísima Virgen vestida de toca blanca, túnica negra de brocado, y manto rojo, teniendo en su regazo al Niño Jesus. A cada uno de los lados de la Vírgen dos ángeles cantando, los de la derecha tienen un libro, y los de la izquierda un papel de música.

Inv. Museo de la Trinidad, Pintura. Núm. 1667.
1667 Tabla. La Virgen con el Niño y cuatro ángeles can- / tando. Figs medio nat.l y cuerpo entº / Autor / Alto 1,10 ancho 0,73 / Sin embarrotar y sin moldura en el almacen / Inº Galofre / N 2 de la 1ª clase

Catálogo Museo del Prado, 1873-1907. Núm. 2184e.
2184e.-La Virgen y el niño. / Alto 1,12; ancho, 0,71.-T [Catálogo 1903]

Inscriptions +

T 1667
Scrap of paper. Front, lower right corner

Exhibitions +

Rogier van der Weyden (ca.1399-1464)
24.03.2015 - 28.06.2015

Displayed objects +

Window glazed with polygonal panes of flat glass: Ventana acristalada con piezas cuadrangulares de vidrio plano, emplomadas, en su parte central colocadas a cartabón y en el perímetro formando una orla por alternancia de rectángulos incoloros y coloreados.

Vial: Redoma de vidrio incoloro con pie circular y anillo de refuerzo cerca de la boca; situada sobre la repisa de la chimenea.

Scores / Written Music: Grupo de dos ángeles cantantes a la derecha del cuadro que sujetan un papel apaisado con una melodía gregoriana en notación cuadrada que no tiene letra (Proyecto Iconografía Musical, UCM).

Book: El libro en el que leen los ángeles de la izquierda está encuadernado en color oscuro, parece tener muchas páginas decoradas con canto dorado y está abierto hacia la mitad (Proyecto Iconografía Musical, UCM).

Seat: Sitial de estilo gótico cubierto con dosel.

Textile, Domestic: Cojín, empleado como escabel, para reposar los pies; en tela de brocado con fondo oscuro y piñas en hilo metálico; con aplicaciones de pasamanería (cordones y borlas) en hilo metálico.

Update date: 23-06-2022 | Registry created on 28-04-2015

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