This photograph was taken during a recent exhibition of the work of Sandro Botticelli held at the Musée Jacquemart-André in Paris. It shows two mirror versions of the Madonna and Child with the Infant Saint John.
A third version, housed at the Barber Institute in Birmingham, is similar to the version shown on the right in the photo which is in a private collection. The mirror version is kept at the Uffizi Gallery (Galleria Palatina) in Florence. I posted about the Birmingham version (right) in October 2019 at this link and revealed that the Baptist figure is a reference to Leonardo da Vinci and connects to a thumb print recently discovered on one of his drawings.
There are variations in each painting, most notably in the detail behind the Madonna, but they do not affect the underlying narrative Botticelli embedded in the original version, likely to be the one in Birmingham which the gallery dates at some time in the 1480s. The two versions in the Paris exhibition are dated at 1505, five years before the death of the artist.
According to The Guardian newspaper, “the National Gallery in London is to make an exceptional loan of a painting by Jan van Eyck to a one-off exhibition celebrating the 15th-century Flemish master. Portrait of a Man (Léal Souvenir), one of the earliest dated works by the painter, will be among the star exhibits in Van Eyck – an Optical Revolution, which will open at the Museum of Fine Arts (MSK) in Ghent, Belgium, in February.”
The newspaper added that “theories abound as to who the sitter was” for Van Eyck’s Léal Souvenir. The “sitter” is also portrayed sat on a horse in the Knights of Christ panel of the Ghent Altarpiece. He is Pierre de Bauffremont (c1400 – 1472), Count of Charney and Lord of Montfort. He was Sénéchal of Burgundy and a Knight of the Order of the Golden Fleece founded by Philip the Good, Duke of Burgundy. Pierre was also married to Marie de Bourgogne, a legitimised daughter of the Duke. It was his third marriage.
Incidently, what is often referred to in the painting as a parapet, isn’t. It represents an inscribed foundation stone. The painting is also linked to two other works by Van Eyck, the Arnolfini Portrait and Portrait of a Man in a Red Turban. He also features in Rogier van der Weyden’s Seven Sacraments Altarpiece.
His work has been appreciated in France, Britain and Spain, and now the Italian urban artist Andrea Ravo Mattoni is exhibiting his mural art in Belgium. It’s part of a project named “Recovery of Classicism in the Contemporary” which reproduces masterpieces from art history as mural art.
Andrea’s latest choice of great works are the Two Satyrs (1619) by Peter Paul Reubens, Portrait of Man with a Red Turban (1433) by Jan van Eyck, and the Fall of the Rebel Angels (1562) by Bruegel the Elder.
The large mural was spray-painted on a wall of the Strokar, the museum of street art in Brussels. It took eight days to complete and more than 120 cans of spray paint.