Cherry on the top

Joos van Cleve, Madonna of the Cherries (Bristol Museum and Art Gallery)

Two, four, six, eight,
Mary at the cottage gate
Eating cherries off a plate,
Two, four, six, eight.

As we hurtle towards the end of this most eventful, least forgettable year, and we approach the day when we are encouraged to trust that peace may come to people of good will, let us pause awhile and contemplate one version of the image that is associated with Christmas, the Madonna and Child.

With this final visit to the canvases of Bristol Museum and Art Gallery for 2020 I present you with my thoughts on a Renaissance painting called The Madonna of the Cherries by Netherlands artist Joos van Cleve, who died around 1540 or 1541, leaving his wife a widow.

Existing in several versions, with the composition sometimes reversed, the Bristol example caught my eye for various reasons, some of which may resonate with you too.

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