A young man — the donor — kneels at the door of a late medieval building, and looks out into a walled garden where the Virgin Mary and Christ Child are seated on a flowering bench. The painting was, however, made in two stages and Philip was not originally included. It seems to have been begun for a member of the Clugny family as their coat of arms appears in the underdrawing. However, it was either abandoned by them and picked up by a later artist, or adapted to show Philip on their orders.
It may have been left unfinished, perhaps as an underdrawing, and completed some years later. This small painting seems to have been made in two stages, possibly by different artists for different patrons several decades apart. A young man — the donor — kneels at the door of a late medieval building. He looks out into a walled garden with a flowering bench around the edges, a frequent feature of medieval gardens.
Seated here is the Virgin Mary. She holds the Christ Child, who blesses the donor with one hand and holds a string of coral and glass beads in the other. Six saints peer curiously over the wall, while behind them is a rolling landscape of hills and cities where daily life continues. Heaven would originally have been shown at the top, but this part of the panel has been cut off. There were no major changes in the course of painting and the donor seems to have been painted by the same artist and at the same time as the other figures.
Could the painting have been begun in the s, when the underdrawing was done, but not painted until around ? Heraldic devices perhaps help to solve the mystery. Above the window we see the emblems of a steel, flint and sparks, which were associated with the dukes of Burgundy.
The donor wears the collar of the Order of the Golden Fleece — a prestigious order of knights founded by Philip the Good in — and so must be both a duke of Burgundy and a knight of the Order. The painting did not, however, always show Philip. Technical analysis reveals a shield with a coat of arms in the underdrawing, below his hat and evidently leaning against the wall. The painting was presumably begun for them, but either abandoned and picked up later by another patron, or changed into a portrait of Philip on their instructions.
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