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Madonna and Child with Apples and Pears

The landscape glimpsed through the window in this work reflects a growing interest in the natural world during the Renaissance, even within the context of a religious image. Botanical symbolism was also a feature of Renaissance religious paintings. The pears and apple placed prominently on the ledge before the Madonna and Child were fruits that often appeared in conjunction with the Christ Child. The apple, a symbol of original sin, signifies Christ’s role as redeemer from sin and death, while the pears allude to Christ’s love for humankind. It is thought that this painting was produced by the workshop of Bernard van Orley, painter to the royal court in Brussels.

Studio of Bernaert van Orley
Flemish, ca. 1488/92‒ca. 1541/42
Madonna and Child with Apples and Pears
ca. 1530
Oil on panel
13 ¾ x 9 ¼ in. (34.9 x 23.5 cm)
Sidney and Lois Eskenazi Museum of Art, Bequest of Herman B Wells, 2001.52