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The Virgin and Child with Saint Anne

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The Virgin and Child with Saint Anne


In this painting the Virgin and her mother, St. Anne, sit side by side. They offer the Christ Child an apple, a reference to the forbidden fruit Eve offered Adam in the Garden of Eden. It is also a symbol of the burden of the sins of mankind that Christ will bear. Benson’s elegant figures are painted with rich colours using his typically delicate touch, and both the Virgin and her mother are given equal compositional importance. This results in a superbly balanced image. In the left background, an angel draws water from the Fountain of Life. Benson was renowned for such small scale devotional pieces, teeming with incident and detail.

Glossary Open


The arrangement of different elements in a work of art.

Devotional art

Religious images used privately as a focus of prayer or an aid to meditation.

Composition, Devotional art


  • Acc. No. NG 2024
  • Medium Oil on panel
  • Size Ogee top: 80.70 x 59.10 cm (framed: 95.40 x 71.50 x 9.20 cm)
  • Credit Purchased 1945