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The Christ Child Surrounded by the Instruments of the Passion
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Simon Bening
Flemish, Bruges, about 1525 - 1530
Tempera colors, gold paint, gold leaf, and ink on parchment
6 5/8 x 4 1/2 in.
MS. LUDWIG IX 19, FOL. 31V

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In a green meadow dotted with dainty flowers and backed by an ethereal golden sky--not a real space but a spiritual realm--the Christ child sits on a pillow like a precious object, surrounded by seven angels. One angel gestures toward the baby and looks down at a spear, referring to the piercing of Christ's side at the Crucifixion, an event yet to happen. Others hold the nails driven into Christ's hands and feet, his crown of thorns, the cross itself, and a sign that had been attached to the cross with the initials for the Latin words Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews.

Simon Bening placed this devotional image, which projects forward in time to the inevitability of Christ's sacrificial death, in the midst of a series of narrative scenes from his infancy.