'The Master of the Plump-Cheeked Madonnas'

January 7 2014

Image of 'The Master of the Plump-Cheeked Madonnas'

Picture: Christie's

In the upcoming Christie's New York Old Master sale there's a painting by the interestingly and slightly bizarrely named artist, 'The Master of the Plump-Cheeked Madonnas'. UK readers may be reminded of the 'Madonna with Ze Big Boobies' from the TV show 'Allo Allo' - but this is not about bottoms, as the Christie's catalogue explains:

In 2000, Didier Martens assembled a group of seven paintings around this serene altarpiece, which he considered to be the most important work by an anonymous Bruges painter active in the first half of the 16th century (op. cit.). Stylistically, these paintings resemble the mature work of Gerard David and Ambrosius Benson, yet are distinguished by the idiosyncratically rounded, full faces of the figures. On the basis of this key and consistent identifying trait, Martens named the artist 'The Master of the Plump-Cheeked Madonnas'.

Needless to say, the artist's name sounds much better in Didier Martens' native French, 'Le Maitre aux Madones Joufflues'.

Update - a reader writes:

Thanks for this really interesting link. Not only did it make me aware of the artist, it also made me realise that St Dominic had a dog as an attribute.

Even more interesting is the provenance of the paintings; being sold by the Met to raise money for their European paintings acquisitions fund.

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