UPPER RHENISH SCHOOL
Madonna and Child (260 x 192 mm.)
Upper Rhine, c. 1490
Two drawings on paper, one of the Madonna and Child pasted over a later drawing of an interior, the former pen and brownish-black ink, highlighted with watercolor wash in ochre, green, and red, watermark on the latter, slight stains, various notations in different 20th century hands on the verso. Cut out from a larger composition, this highly finished drawing of the Virgin and Child – skillfully drawn freehand (not traced) with pen and highlighted with dense watercolor wash – was probably executed as an independent work in its own right. The drawing unites two iconographic traditions. The first, the standing Christ Child in the lap of the seated Madonna dressed in ordinary clothes, relies on an Upper Rhenish model of the Virgin of Humility from the third quarter of the fifteenth century (Lehrs 69). The second, the Nursing Virgin (or Madonna Lactans), depicts the Virgin interrupted in the act of nursing as she squirts milk at Saint Bernard of Clairvaux, who kneels praying by her side.