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Madonna with Canon Joris van der Paele

Jan van Eyck
160 cm x 124.5 cm
Inventory number: 
Groeninge Museum Bruges
Category A: Flemish primitives
15th century Bruges painting Madonnas and Child Portraits Saints
Religious scenes

Mary offers the child Jesus a bouquet of flowers while he plays with a Rose-ringed Parakeet with the other hand. Left of the throne stands Saint Donatianus van Reims, the patron saint of the Bruges Saint Donaas Cathedral, for which the panel was intended. He is carrying a procession cross and his normal attribute, the wheel with the five burning candles. The bishop carries a miter and a blue choir cap, which is adorned by embroidery of the twelve apostles. To the right of the throne stands Saint George, in full armor and with the pennant on which his coat of arms appears. With his left hand, he commends Canon Joris van der Paele with Mary and the child Jesus as he takes off his helmet with a honourific gesture. The figure of the Madonna and a window are mirrored in his helmet various times. The shield on his back reflects the image of a standing man with a red hat and a dark-blue mantle, which could represent the painter himself. To the right of the throne knees the patron. The elderly and sick Canon wears a white surplice and a choral cloth on his left arm. In his hands he holds an opened breviary and his spectacles. The tableau is played out in the choir of a Romanesque church. The capitals of the wall pillars and the figurative sculpture work of the throne present biblical tableaux.
It is noteworthy how the personages in the painting form blocks of colour: blue, red, white and gold. It is no coincidence that these are the heraldic colours of Bruges, likewise present in the flower bouquet.