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The Virgin and Child with Angels

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The Virgin and Child with Angels 15th century

Not on display

This arresting image of the Virgin and Christ Child presents a tantalising example of illusionistic painting. The canvas or parchment on which the artist appears to have been painting, seems miraculously torn away from its wooden stretcher, to reveal a vision of the Holy figures. This illusion is enhanced by the tattered edges of parchment, the tacking strip, and the fly, on one of the apparently projecting pieces, at the bottom left. The elegant, elongated Virgin holds a pomegranate, a symbol of the Resurrection, while the tiny Christ Child is asleep, a reference to his future Passion.

Glossary Open


The use of pictorial devices to create the illusion of reality in a painting. An example of this is trompe l'œil, in which the artist sets out to trick the viewer into believing the image is a real scene.


The representation of subjects or ideas by use of a device or motif to create underlying meaning. A literary and artistic movement that originated in France and spread through much of Europe in the late 19th century. There was no consistent style but rather an appeal to the idea of the artist as mystic or visionary and the desire to express a world beyond superficial appearances.

Illusionism, Symbolism


  • Acc. No. NG 1535
  • Medium Tempera, oil and gold on panel
  • Size 58.50 x 44.00 cm (framed: 67.80 x 62.60 x 11.00 cm)
  • Credit Purchased 1921