The Madonna of Humility

Object Details


The Madonna of Humility


After Robert Campin (Netherlandish, about 1375 - 1444)




about 1450 - 1470


Oil on panel


48.6 x 37.8 cm (19 1/8 x 14 7/8 in.)

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The Madonna of Humility, an extremely popular subject in Flanders, sits on the ground on a cushion, presenting the haloed Christ Child in her arms. A crescent visible below her skirts at the left symbolizes the moon on which the Virgin stands in representations of the Immaculate Conception. The open and closed books symbolize the Old and New Testaments, and the lilies to the right symbolize Mary's purity. The apple in Christ's hands and mouth alludes to original sin and his future sacrifice.

In this painting, the artist preserves the rich colors and detailed focus of his predecessors, the illuminated manuscript painters, while attempting to create a coherent spatial world. The river winds into the background, yet the townscape in the distance is rendered with as much clarity as the trim on the Virgin's drapery. Minutely observed details demonstrate the early Netherlandish interest in creating a convincing illusion of three-dimensional reality on a flat panel.

by 1935 - still in 1953

Gaston Müller (Brussels, Belgium)

by 1964 - still in 1967

Baron Robert de Gendébien (Brussels, Belgium)

- at least 1975

Établissement pour la diffusion et la connaissance des oeuvres d'art (Liechtenstein)

- 1977

Artemis Fine Arts, Inc. (New York)

and Eugene Thaw (New York, New York), sold to the J. Paul Getty Museum, 1977.

Cinq siècles d'art (May 24 to October 13, 1935) (Cat. 13; as follower of Rogier van der Weyden)
  • Exposition Universelle et Internationale (Brussels), May 24 to October 13, 1935
The Worcester-Philadelphia Exhibition of Flemish Painting (March 25 to April 26, 1939) (Cat. 5; as Robert Campin)
  • Worcester Art Museum, (Worcester), March 25 to April 26, 1939
Fleurs et jardins dans l'art flamand (April 10 to June 26, 1960) (Cat. 43; as Robert Campin)
  • Musée des Beaux-Arts (Ghent), April 10 to June 26, 1960
Hommage à Roger de le Pasture-van der Weyden, 1646 - 1964 (November 15 to December 15, 1964) (Cat. 11; as the Master of Flémalle)
  • Cathédrale de Tournai, November 15 to December 15, 1964