Rogier van der Weyden (ca. 1400 – 1464)
Since the 14th century the middle class had been gaining in influence in society. Depictions of the saints were no longer restricted to the churches but used as portable devotional images for burghers’ homes. The painting by an artist in the circle of Rogier van der Weyden is a significant example. The small wood panel exhibits the characteristic innovations introduced by the Early Netherlandish painters. The surfaces of the fabrics and the plasticity of the figures and objects are worked with detailed precision. The quality of painting and composition both suggest that the panel painting was produced by the circle of van der Weyden. The characteristic Madonna type with floral attributes as well as the architectural niche elements with stonework point to the master. Lovingly Jesus reaches his mother a blue flower with his right hand. The flower is clearly veronica, which in the Middle Ages was a prized medicinal plant that as ‘vera unica medicina’ – the one true medicine – was associated with the Son of God. As a religious symbol the veronica stands for Christ as the sole savior of the world. That the panel painting was most likely part of a folding altar for private devotions, is suggested by the implied canopy on the upper edge of the picture.