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Maria Gravida, fragment of a panel from Németújvár (today Güssing, Austria) Unknown Painter

Artist:

Unknown Painter

Date: 1409
Medium: pine-wood, gilded, oil-egg tempera
Dimensions: image: 89 × 78 × 5.5 cm imageméáret (with frame): 97.5 × 86 × 5.5 cm
Type: panel painting
Inventory number: 52.656
Collection: Old Hungarian Collection

Perhaps made for the western territory of the Hungarian Kingdom, the foremost intention of this now fragmentary painting was to create an awe-inspiring image of Maria Gravida, the Virgin Mary pregnant with Jesus. This interpretation is confirmed by the brush drawing on the Virgin’s belly of Jesus in a foetal position, surrounded by a mandorla, holding a great cross on His right shoulder, which was never actually painted.
This work was probably a self-standing panel painting or the central section of an altarpiece which presumably served as the focus for personal religious contemplation in a church. Its artist can be identified with the founder and first major individual of the great Viennese workshop from the beginning of the 15th century. During the remodelling of the painting, presumably due to the decree passed by the Council of Trent in 1563, they removed the section, originally on the left side, showing Saint Joseph’s doubts, from which the straw hat tied to the stick and the little barrel along with the red drapery and halo can still be seen on the edge of the painting.

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