The Virgin of the Rose Garden unites three devotional subjects, all popular after 1400 and related to the worship of the Virgin Mary: the Virgin Mary attended by virgin saints (among them Ursula, Catherine of Alexandria, Barbara, and Cecilia), the coronation of the Virgin, and the mystic marriage of Saint Catherine to the Christ child. The walled garden setting, with its realistic enumeration of flowers and plants familiar in Northern Europe at this time, refers both to the Near Eastern concept of a lush, floral Paradise and the Christian interpretation of the Old Testament's Song of Songs, which equates Mary's virginity with an enclosed garden. In the background the artist has depicted the city of Bruges prior to 1485, when another level was added to the city's belfry.
Artist Master of the St. Lucy Legend, Flemish
Title
  • Virgin of the Rose Garden
Date between 1475 and 1480
Medium Oil on oak panel
Dimensions Unframed: 31 1/8 × 23 5/8 inches (79.1 × 60 cm)
Framed: 38 1/8 × 31 5/8 × 3 1/2 inches (96.8 × 80.3 × 8.9 cm)
Credit Line Founders Society Purchase, General Membership Fund
Accession Number 26.387
Department European Painting
On View European: Medieval and Renaissance W234, Level 2 (see map)
Sinai, convent of Poor Clares (Bruges, Belgium) [possibly commissioned for this religious establishment by Louis de Gruuthuse, see Roberts, 1998];
1785, auction by order of the Holy Roman Emperor, Joseph II, lot 4111;
1785, bought for 2 florins by (John Berthels, England);
1919, Collection Weber (Brussels, Belgium);
1923, Collection Van der Hoop (Brussels, Belgium);
July 13, 1926, auction (F. Muller, Amsterdam, Netherlands);
1926, (Galerie D.A. Hoogendijk, Amsterdam, Netherlands);
1926-present, purchase by the Detroit Institute of Arts (Detroit, Michigan, USA)
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Friedländer, M.J. Die Altniederländische Malerei. Berlin, 1928, Vol. 6, pp. 68-69, no. 154 (pl. LXIV).

Heil, W. Catalogue of Paintings in the Permanent Collection of the Detroit Institute of Arts. Detroit, 1930, no. 140.

Tietze, H. Meisterwerke europäische Malerei in Amerika. Vienna, 1935, p. 135.

Richardson, E.P. Detroit Institute of Arts Flemish Painting of the 15th and 16th Centuries. Detroit, 1936 (fig. 3).

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Falkenburg, Reindert L. (translated by S. Herman). The Fruit of Devotion: Mysticism and the Imagery of Love in Flemish Paintings of the Virgin and Child, 1450-1550. Philadelphia, 1994 (fig. 7).

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Martens, D. "Der Brügger Meister der Lucialegende. Bilanz der Forschungen und neue Hypothesen." Die Kunstbeziehungen Estlands mit den Niederlanden in den 15.-17. Tallinn, 2000, pp. 61, 67 (fig. 2).

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Pumplin, Paula. "The Communion of Saints: The Master of the Virgo inter Virgines' Virgin and Child with Saints Catherine, Cecilia, Barbara and Ursula." The Rijksmuseum Bulletin 58, no. 4 (2010): 306-327, p. 318, fig. 12 (ill.)

You, Yao-Fen. "Paul Coremans, Edgar Richardson and the 1960 Flemish Art show: A Transatlantic Friendship Forged by a Transatlantic Exhibition." In A Man of Vision, Scientia Artis 15. Brussels, 2019, pp. 172, note 2.