Madonna at the Fountain

Jan van Eyck
12 cm x 19 cm
Inventory number: 
Royal Museum of Fine Arts Antwerp
Category A: Flemish primitives
15th century Madonnas and Child
Religious scenes

Mary, clad in blue, tenderly holds the Christ child against her. Behind her, two angels with variegated wings hold up a blanket in gold brocade, on which one can discern motives of flowers and animals. In the foreground to the left stands a fountain, crowned by a lion’s image. Out of the bowl four streams run into the basin. The background is formed by a garden with many flowers. Maybe it is the Closed Garden, the symbol that stands for the cloistered state of paradise, in this case, Mary.
The blue colour refers to her royalty, and in the Middle Ages, she referred to trust and loyalty. The various flowers, amongst which are roses, irises, violets, forget-me-nots and lilies of the valley represent beauty, refinement and purity. The fountain is then again the symbol for the Mother of God as a life-giving source.