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Introduction to Art History

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The Madonna of the Cherries

16th Century
16th Century
24 3/4 x 18 3/8 in. (62.9 x 46.7 cm)

Joos Van Cleve, Netherlandish, (c. 1485–c. 1541)

Object Type: PAINTINGS
Creation Place: Europe
Medium and Support: Oil on panel
Accession Number: 73-P-113
Gallery Label:

Van Cleve belonged to an important Southern Netherlandish family of painters. Though it is unclear whether the artist spent time in Italy, he absorbed the style and subject matter of a number of his Italian contemporaries, including Leonardo, Raphael and Andrea del Sarto. He was particularly sought after for his depictions of the Virgin and Child, like the one pictured here which owes much to Leonardo. In some instances the original van Cleve painting has been lost, but the type is known through the plentiful replicas created by the artist’s workshop as well as by later copyists. At least five other versions of the Madonna of the Cherries are known in private and public collections. The cherries the child holds hide a deeper meaning: the fruit was related to paradise and linked to Christ’s role as savior.


Faculty Written Label:

Perception as reality. In the Communication Studies field it is important to check perceptions whenever possible. The baby (Jesus) may be pulling away from an apathetic mother (Madonna), but he may also be holding out the cherries to gain the attention from a fatigued woman. Nonverbal communication provides a context for perception, but we need to check those perceptions by asking questions. This is especially important when the behaviors are enacted by someone we do not know. Perceptions should serve only as a starting point for continued information acquisition.

Katie Neary Dunleavy, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor, Communication
Current Location: Art Museum : 15-16 C Gallery

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