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Hood Museum of Art
Dartmouth College
Hanover, NH 03755

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Master of the Legend of the Magdalen, Netherlandish, active about 1483-1530

Virgin and Child
About 1490
Oil on panel
Purchased through the Mrs. Harvey P. Hood W'18 Fund and the Robert J. Strasenburgh II 1942 Fund; P.985.53


This devotional panel is a variant of the type of half-length depiction of the Virgin and Child popularized in the middle of the fifteenth century by the Netherlandish artists Rogier van der Wyden (about 1399-1464) and Robert Campin (1375/79-1444). They apparently influenced the painter who executed this picture, who has traditionally been identified as the Master of the Magdalen Legend, someone most likely active in Brussels and named after an altarpiece containing scenes from the life of Mary Magdalen (now dispersed). A number of similar Virgin and Child depictions have been attributed to this artist as well.

Another characteristic shared with the work of Rogier is the new medium of oil paint. Here the artist, taking advantage of oil’s technical possibilities, used translucent glazes to achieve a richness and depth of color not possible in other media. These features are heightened by the lack of any background details, which make the figures appear more isolated.

A number of portraits have been associated with the Master of the Magdalen Legend, many of which may have originally formed diptychs with the Virgin and Child compositions. The present panel has a later frame, so there are no indications of the presence of hinges on either side, where a donor portrait would have been traditionally located—most likely to the right facing the Virgin and Child.

Last Updated: 7/9/09