Saint Bernard's Vision of the Virgin and Child

Simon Marmionabout 1475–1480

The J. Paul Getty Museum

The J. Paul Getty Museum
Los Angeles, United States

One day, kneeling before a statue of the Virgin, Saint Bernard (1090-1153) prayed, "Show yourself to be a mother." In response, a few drops of milk from the breast of the statue, a metaphor for the gift of life, fell onto Bernard's lips. This miniature, removed from a devotional book at some point in the past, illustrates that legend. Bernard's words, in Latin, are inscribed in gold above the Virgin's head. The statue of the Virgin and Child seems to come to life before Bernard, a feeling enhanced by the artist's depiction of the Christ child reaching out and grasping Bernard's staff. In addition, the miniature is structured so that the viewer looks over Bernard's shoulder and sees the scene from his perspective. The overall effect is to bring the viewer as close as possible to Saint Bernard's own experience of the miracle.


  • Title: Saint Bernard's Vision of the Virgin and Child
  • Creator: Simon Marmion
  • Date Created: about 1475–1480
  • Location Created: Northern France, France
  • Physical Dimensions: Leaf: 11.6 × 6.3 cm (4 9/16 × 2 1/2 in.)
  • Type: Detached leaf
  • External Link: Find out more about this object on the Museum website.
  • Medium: Tempera colors and gold on parchment
  • Terms of Use: Open Content
  • Number: 88.MS.14.recto
  • Culture: French
  • Credit Line: The J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles, Ms. 32, recto
  • Creator Display Name: Simon Marmion (Flemish, active 1450 - 1489)
  • Classification: Manuscripts (Documents)

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