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Virgin and Child with a Dragonfly

Virgin and Child with a Dragonfly

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Summary

Among the eponymous masters of Northern Renaissance painting is one whose name derives from two remarkable panels in the National Gallery, London, that represent scenes from the life of Saint Giles. Although certain stylistic features of his work, most notably the manner of rendering light and texture, suggest a Netherlandish background for the artist, his portrayal of sites in Paris points to a livelihood made in that city. Indeed, the oeuvre of the Master of Saint Giles indicates that he was an itinerant artist who perhaps trained in the Netherlands and was subsequently active in Paris.Several panels showing the Virgin and Child readily demonstrate that the Master of Saint Giles was influenced by the work of Rogier van der Weyden and Dieric (Dirk) Bouts. The dragonfly is symbolic of the Devil, here subdued by Christ, who through the Incarnation, Crucifixion, and Resurrection triumphed over Satan.
Master of Saint Giles (Netherlandish and French, active ca. 1500)

The Dutch School painters can be dated as Early Netherlandish (1400–1500), Dutch Renaissance (1500–1584), and, later, Dutch Golden Age painting in the United Provinces. The detailed realism of Early Netherlandish painting, led by Robert Campin and Jan van Eyck in the 1420s and 1430s, is today generally considered to be the beginning of the early Northern Renaissance in painting. This style was greatly respected in Italy, but there was little reciprocal influence on the North until nearly the end of the 15th century. Despite frequent cultural and artistic exchange, the Antwerp Mannerists (1500–1530) were unrelated to Italian Mannerism. Among notable northern painters were highly individualistic artists such as Hieronymus Bosch and Pieter Bruegel the Elder who developed styles that were imitated by many subsequent generations. In the 16th century northern painters increasingly traveled to Italy, so the art of Michelangelo and Raphael and the late Renaissance Mannerism had a great impact on their work. Hieronymus Bosch and Geertgen tot Sint Jans are well-known examples of fifteenth- and sixteenth-century Dutch painters. In the northern Netherlands, the Reformation brought religious painting almost completely to an end. Portrait painting was slow to spread from the elite to new riches. By the end of the 16th century, artists such as Karel van Mander and Hendrik Goltzius collected in Haarlem in a brief but intense phase of Northern Mannerism that also spread to Flanders. Between 1605 and 1635 over 100,000 paintings were produced in Haarlem. Rembrandt van Rijn, Frans Hals, Johannes Vermeer, Jacob van Ruisdael, and Jan Steen are just a few names form the seventeenth century.

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Date

1500
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Source

The Metropolitan Museum of Art
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