Maarten De Vos - The Family of Saint Anne
Maarten De Vos - The Family of Saint Anne

Maarten De Vos  The Family of Saint Anne

In the frieze of the portico, the maker of this panel has applied his signature: "Fecit Mertino De Vos, 1585", translated "Made by Maerten de Vos, 1585". This family portrait came from the church of the Ghent Abbey of St Peter's. The scene illustrates how religious art acquired secular and even middle-class overtones in this period: this panel explicitly promotes the family as the social ideal. The luminous and eye-catching colours point to the extent of the Italian influence. Only a few of the beautifully rendered figures can be identified. In the centre, we have Jesus sitting in his mother's lap. He is looking up at Mary's cousin, St Elizabeth. She can also be seen standing in the background, beside her son, St John the Baptist. Her husband, Zacharias, is part of the group on the left. He is the one wearing the mitre. The portico offers a second view of St Elizabeth, this time on meeting the Virgin Mary in the scene known as the Visitation. There is a biblical story behind this work.

Maarten De Vos  The Family of Saint Anne

St Luke starts his gospel with the announcement of the birth of St John the Baptist. "There was in the days of Herod, the king of Judaea, a certain priest named Zacharias, who had a wife named Elizabeth. And they had no child, because that Elizabeth was barren, and they both were now well stricken in years." Then the archangel Gabriel appears to Zacharias and promises them a son. Elizabeth is indeed found to be pregnant, just like her kinswoman Mary. And Mary arose in those days, and went into the hill country with haste, into a city of Juda. She entered into the house of Zacharias, and saluted Elizabeth. And it came to pass, that, when Elizabeth heard the salutation of Mary, the babe leaped in her womb. Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Ghost, and she spoke out with a loud voice, and said, "Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb. And whence is this to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me?" A few months later, Elizabeth gave birth to John, and Mary to Jesus.

Size

H: 135,3 cm
W: 170 cm

Medium

Oil on panel

Year

1585