Jean Fouquet (c. 1420 - 1480): Madonna Surrounded by

Jean Fouquet (c. 1420 - 1480): Madonna Surrounded by

3/18/2021, 10:26:49 AM
Jean Fouquet (c. 1420 - 1480): Madonna Surrounded by Seraphim and Cherubim (right wing of Melun Diptych), c. 1452 - 1458, oil on panel, 94.5 x 85.5 cm (37.2 x 33.6 in), temporarily in the Gemäldegalerie - Staatliche Museen zu Berlin until October 2018 (on loan from Royal Museum of Fine Arts (Koninklijk Museum) Antwerp, Belgium) . . . This is the right wing of a diptych, originally located in Notre Dame, Melun. Jean Fouquet’s diptych is one of the masterworks of French painting and of fifteenth century art in general. The left wing showing Étienne Chevalier and St Stephen the Martyr is in the Gemäldegalerie in Berlin. Seated on an elaborate gold throne, the Madonna and the Christ child are depicted in the right panel. Madonna as a slender female figure has the bulging shaved forehead fashionable at the period. Her face and skin as well as the body of the infant Jesus are a pale grey-white, as if painted in grisaille. The Madonna wears a blue dress, white mantle and a jewel-encrusted crown. On her lap sits the child, who makes a pointing gesture to the left with his left hand at the patron and the saint. The throne, sumptuously adorned with marble panels, pearls, precious stones and great gold tassels, is surrounded by cherubim painted in vivid red and blue, which greatly contrast with the pale skin of the Virgin and child; their figures, recalling two-dimensional decorations, completely fill the rest of the panel. Although the figures are modeled realistically, the mood is otherworldly, The Madonna is depicted here as the Queen of Heaven and is meant to reveal her as between the veil of heaven and earth. She is both human and otherworldly. The unnatural colours have been attributed to represent the heraldic colours of the king, being red, white, and blue. The Virgin is believed to be an idealized portrait of Agnès Sorel, mistress of King Charles VII, who died two years earlier. Sorel was considered by many at the time to be “the most beautiful woman in the world” and therefore an obvious choice after which to model the Virgin. As minister of finance to the king, Etienne Chevalier was the executor of her will.

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