Madonna surrounded by Seraphim and Cherubim

Jean Fouquet
104 cm x 112.7 cm x 4 cm
Inventory number: 
Royal Museum of Fine Arts Antwerp
Category D: Outside the Low Countries
15th century Madonnas and Child
Religious scenes

This works shows the Virgin Mary as the Queen of Heaven with her child Jesus on her lap. They sit on a richly decorated throne, which is supported by cherubs and seraphim. This is probably the portrait of Agnes Sorel, the lover of Charles VII. She is very fashionably clothed. The highly shorn away hair and the mantle of ermine certify her preeminence. The constricted waist emphasises the lightly loosened label, through which the full breast is exposed and the whole scene takes on a slightly erotic tone. The tableau is surreal: the milk-white skin of Mary and Jesus contrast with the intense red and blue angels.
The artwork forms the ride panel of the so-called Melundiptych. The French court painter, Jean Fouquet, painted this on commission by Etienne Chevalier, treasurer of the French King and spouse of Catherine Budé. The work hangs above her tomb in Notre Dame of Melun. The left panel (Gemäldegalerie Berlin) shows Etienne Chevalier with his patron saint, Saint Stefanus.