Vierge à la fontaine Jan Van Eyck 1439
Vierge à la fontaine
Jan Van Eyck,1439
Oil on wood, 19 x 12 cm
Koninklijk Museum voor Schone Kunsten, Antwerp


The small panel is signed and dated on a marbled frame: 'IOH(ann)ES DE EYCK ME FECIT C(om)PLEVIT AN(n)O 1439'. However, the datation is debated. The painting is assumed by some scholars to be earlier (c. 1425-30) and the 1439 is only the date of completion and framing.

The attention which Van Eyck focused upon the tender embrace of mother and child is characteristic of late-medieval devotion. The artist depicts the paradisiacal garden and other symbols of the Virgin such as the fountain, the rose and the iris. Angels hold up a gorgeous brocade cloth behind the mother and child as a symbol of honour. The symbolism of the colours used in the painting serve to heighten its spiritual message.


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