Feminae: Medieval Women and Gender Index


  • Title: Virgin and Child/Madonna of Melun
  • Creator: Fouquet, Jean, painter
  • Description: The Virgin sits on a pearl-studded throne and wears an ermine cloak and a gold-and-pearl crown. Her hairline has been plucked, in the contemporary style, and she holds the nude Christ Child on her lap. The blue and red angels (cherubs and seraphs, respectively) elevating the throne contrast sharply with this figural group and emphasize the chalky whiteness of the Virgin and Child. Mary's tightly laced dress emphasizes her exposed globular breast. While this image draws on Madonna lactans imagery, a visual tradition that underscored Christ's humanity, Christ does not actively nurse and thus allows the breast to be considered outside of its nurturing context. The model for the Virgin may have been Agnes Sorel, the mistress of King Charles VII, and thus the erotic overtones of this image may have been intentional. The Christ Child points, probably in an address to the patron depicted in the left wing (not shown here).
  • Source: Wikimedia Commons
  • Rights: Public domain
  • Subject (See Also): Angels Breast Feeding Breasts Madonna Lactans (Artistic Motif) Mary, Virgin, Saint and Child
  • Geographic Area: Low Countries
  • Century: 15
  • Date: 1452
  • Related Work: Melun diptych, left wing: St. Stephen and √Čtienne Chevalier: http://www.googleartproject.com/museums/gemaldegalerie/etienne-chevalier-with-st-stephen-38
  • Current Location: Antwerp, Koninklijk Museum voor Schone Kunsten
  • Original Location: Notre Dame de Melun
  • Artistic Type (Category): Digital images; Paintings
  • Artistic Type (Material/Technique): Wood; Oil; Tempra; Diptych wing (right)
  • Donor: Layman; √Čtienne Chevalier, treasurer to King Charles VII of France
  • Height/Width/Length(cm): 85 cm/93 cm/
  • Inscription:
  • Related Resources: