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Exhibition banner - painting of a man seated by a tree
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The Virgin and Child with Saints Catherine and Barbara

c. 1520-30

RCIN 407812

This is an example of a type of sacred art which first developed around 1390, showing the Virgin and Child in an enclosed garden setting. Verses in the Old Testament 'Song of Solomon' linking the Virgin to an enclosed garden (hortus conclusus) inspired devotional images of this kind. A boundary wall or fence and a carpet of flowers at the Virgin’s feet were sufficient to indicate an enclosed garden. The turf bench, a common feature of medieval gardens, fulfils the role of boundary wall here.

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