Joos van Cleve was one of the leading artists of 16th-century Antwerp. Among his patrons were the French King, Francis I, and Henry VIII of England. Originally this picture was the centre panel of a triptych. It shows the extremely fine detail and lustrous colouring, which could be achieved through the skilful use of oil paint by a master of the technique. The contrasting textures of glass, fur, polished marble and translucent gauze are represented with painstaking accuracy. Certain details have symbolic significance: the grapes and wine on the table suggest Christ’s blood and the celebration of the mass, while the apple beside the sleeping child is a reminder of the sin of Adam and Eve from which Christ’s death will redeem the world.


  • Title: Virgin and Child with Angels
  • Creator: Joos van Cleve
  • Creator Lifespan: 1480s - 1540/1
  • Creator Nationality: Netherlandish
  • Creator Gender: Male
  • Creator Death Place: Antwerp, Belgium
  • Creator Birth Place: Netherlands
  • Date Created: About 1525
  • tag / style: Joos van Cleve; triptych; religious; lustrous; textures; glass; fur; polished marble; translucent gauze; accuracy; realism; symbolic; grapes; wine; table; blood of Christ; mass; apple; child; Adam and Eve; sin; redeem; Madonna; Christ; baby; rug; throne; canopy; singing; angels; music; cherries; landscape; Renaissance
  • Physical Dimensions: w655 x h855 cm (Without frame)
  • Artwork History: Painting acquired in 1981 from the Weld family descendants of Henry Blundell (1724-1810) and his son Charles Blundell (1761-1837) of Ince Blundell Hall, north of Liverpool.
  • Artist biographical information: Joos Van Cleve was born in the Rhineland region of Cleve around the 1480s and from 1511 ran a major and influential painting workshop in Antwerp with important international clientele including royalty and nobility across western and southern Europe. His workshop supplied altarpieces to churches and family chapels from Gdansk to the Canary Islands. He was also a noted portraitist painting bust-length portraits of Francis I, the French king and his first wife Eleanor of Austria, as well as Henry VIII (Royal Collection, on loan to Hampton Court) and worked at the French court between 1529-33. Joos was particularly influential in understanding and assimilating into Northern European Renaissance art the graceful visual style of Leonardo da Vinci.
  • Additional artwork information: The Walker Art Gallery’s Virgin and Child with Angels painting has been seen as Joos’s response to Leonardo da Vinci's 'Virgin of the Rocks', which he painted in two versions in 1486 and between 1491-1508, especially in Joos’s adoption of Leonardo’s soft, smoky modelling of flesh-tones (sfumato) in the features of the angels and the Virgin
  • Type: Oil on wood panel
  • Rights: Purchased with the help of the Art Fund, National Heritage Memorial Fund, Special Appeal Fund and other benefactors in 1981

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