Madonna of Lucca by Van Eyck

Madonna of Lucca by Van Eyck
Madonna of Lucca by Van Eyck

This work by the Flemish painter Jan Van Eyck is currently exhibited at the Stadelsches Kunstinstitut in the German city of Frankfurt, where It came from the collection of Carlo Luigi de Borbon, Duke of Lucca, hence the name of the piece with the name of that Italian city in Tuscany. But it is unknown for whom the artist really made it. Although, almost all scholars think that it would be some commission from an Italian merchant installed in the city of Bruges where the artist lived. Or perhaps from some relevant character who knew of the artist's fame and requested a work from him to then take it to his place of origin. In fact, there are many commissions of this type that came to the artist. Some as peculiar as the Turin Book of Hours.


Van Eyck's Madonna of Lucca

Here we are before a work of small size. But those dimensions do not in any way avoid the solemnity of the image. A defining feature of all the images of the Virgin Mary that Van Eyck painted. As well as it is usual to locate it in architectural frames defined with extreme detail. We can see that in The Virgin in the Church or in the Virgin of Chancellor Rolin.

In this case, he places Mary and the Child in a rather small chamber, illuminated by a window on one side. A most pompous scene, for the throne in which the characters seem to be and for thedress of the woman, although in reality it tells us something as human as that the mother breastfeeds her child. A very common iconography at the time and that came from very old.

That is to say, it combines a certain approach to these characters, with a solemn, almost majestic tone, since both are on a real throne, which even has its protective canopy at the top.

The date of the work is not known for sure, but establishing similarities with other creations of Van Eyck, such as Chancellor Rolin's own Virgin, or that of Canon van der Paele, one can think that he would make the painting between the years 1435 and 1436.

But there is a feature that is very innovative and strange in this author's painting. And that feature is that we see the nude figure of the baby Jesus partially from behind. Something that today seems to us to be an extremely natural representation, given the scene it presents us with, but which is something very strange in all of medieval painting. So because of things like these, in addition to Van Eyck's refined technique, we are dealing with a very innovative and special artist, who can be described in certain aspects as a gothic painter, but in others into a true Renaissance artist.

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