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Anthony van Dyck - Virgin and Child - Walters 37234


Anthony van Dyck - Virgin and Child - Walters 37234



This Virgin and Child subtly incorporates traditional allusions to the miraculous. Mary's long, loose hair identifies her as a virgin, alluding to the virgin birth. The palatial column evokes her future reign as Queen of Heaven, while the nakedness of the Christ Child, explicitly a little boy, reminds believers that, miraculously, Christ was fully human and fully God.
Van Dyck worked in the Antwerp studio of Peter Paul Rubens before spending six years in Italy. Once returned, he created a style synthesizing that of Flanders and Italy, producing dramatic, yet elegant religious works such as this Virgin and Child, one of several versions; Van Dyck's touch is most evident here in the Virgin's face and hand. He subsequently became court painter to King Charles I of England, who raised him to the nobility.

By the last decades of the 16th century, the refined Mannerism style had ceased to be an effective means of religious art expression. Catholic Church fought against Protestant Reformation to re-establish its dominance in European art by infusing Renaissance aesthetics enhanced by a new exuberant extravagance and penchant for the ornate. The new style was coined Baroque and roughly coincides with the 17th century. Baroque emphasizes dramatic motion, clear, easily interpreted grandeur, sensuous richness, drama, dynamism, movement, tension, emotional exuberance, and details, and often defined as being bizarre, or uneven. The term Baroque likely derived from the Italian word barocco, used by earlier scholars to name an obstacle in schematic logic to denote a contorted idea or involuted process of thought. Another possible source is the Portuguese word barroco (Spanish barrueco), used to describe an irregular or imperfectly shaped pearl, and this usage still survives in the jeweler’s term baroque pearl. Baroque spread across Europe led by the Pope in Rome and powerful religious orders as well as Catholic monarchs to Northern Italy, France, Spain, Flanders, Portugal, Austria, southern Germany, and colonial South America.



1600 - 1730


Walters Art Museum

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