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Current time:0:00Total duration:3:43

Video transcript

look at that gold stitching on the red fabric and the ermine lining of the clothing worn by Saint Catherine and on Saint Barbara look at the jewels in her headdress they're just spectacular look at the perfection of the white lilies in the garden between Mary and Saint Barbara or between Catherine and Mary look at the iris it looks like it's got dew on it look at the transparency of the fabric that wraps around Christ's legs or how about the grape arbor in the background each leaf is carefully delineated look at the perfect foreshortening of st. Catherine's right hand not to mention the foreshortening of the tiles on the floor and then look at the way in which the folds are falling out of the gray garment on top of the fur the worn by the patron and what about the red fabric underneath Mary's feet and the way that her blue gown with the gold stitching at the edges falls over that and then of course this the infinity of the city in back of the garden looks like there's a crane on the chimney of the house on the left perhaps as a woman in the window the tiles of the roof are visible there's so much to see in this painting we're looking at Gerhard David's the Virgin and Child with Saints and donor which brings together not only the patron the man who paid for the painting a series of female saints but Mary and the Christ child as well as an angel and st. Anthony Abbot who can just barely be seen in the garden beyond we know that the patron was a senior cleric for a church in Bruges who was restoring a chapel dedicated to Saint Anthony Abbot and that this altarpiece was probably made for that chapel so this is that aspect of northern painting that I find so compelling this deep sense of spirituality that's combined with this interest in the precise rendering of the material world right it's the way that the material world reveals the spiritual that's such a part of the Northern Renaissance the care David took with everything in this painting makes her I want to linger helping us to meditate on these figures the more learning would also recognize quite a number of symbols in this painting for instance on the extreme left side we see an angel is clearly picking grapes from the arbor and that's a reference to the wine of the Eucharist and Christ's announcement of the Last Supper that that was his blood and then we have Saint Catherine who's accompanied by her attributes a wheel and a sword we have the enclosed garden itself which is a traditional symbol of Mary's virginity and we have the lilies and the irises the lilies a symbol of Mary's virginity the iris a symbol of her faithfulness and then on the right side in the lap of Mary Magdalene a jar of ointment a reminder that she anointed the feet of Christ but for all the solemnity there's a little bit of activity as well you see Christ in Mary's lab but Christ is reaching over towards Catherine and he's handing her a ring and this is a reminder that she was martyred according to legend because she refused to marry the emperor of Rome because she said she was already married to Christ and we also see Mary Magdalene reaching out to a page of the Bible that is held by Saint Barbara so there's little bits of activity and informality within this otherwise very solemn and serious image