The Virgin and Child
Detail from Unknown Artist, Constantinople, Byzantium, 'The Virgin and Child, Saint John the Baptist and Prophets', c.1325. Photo © National Gallery of IrelandCredit

'The Virgin and Child, Saint John the Baptist and Prophets' by Unknown Artist, Constantinople, Byzantium

132.5 x 111 cm
Tempera and gold leaf on wood panel
Purchased, 1968

Stop 16 on the First Fortnight Art Trail

Orthodox Christian icons follow strict models and formulas revered in Byzantine art. A common composition is the ‘Virgin Hodegetria’ or ‘Indicator of the Way,’ in which Mary is shown holding the Christ Child and pointing to him, identifying him as the source of salvation for mankind.

Although much of our art historical heritage is religious, many people do not follow any religion and may consider such artworks irrelevant. However, according to Alain de Botton, a popular writer on philosophy, regarding such works as being moral rather than moralising can benefit us, particularly if we interpret such images as reminders of the ways in which we want to make the most of our own lives.

On display in Room 33, Beit Wing, Level 3

About First Fortnight Festival

First Fortnight is a charity that challenges mental health prejudice through arts and cultural action. In January 2019, the National Gallery of Ireland is offering an education and engagement programme of events focusing on mindfulness and mental health. This Art Trail is part of the programme. See the full programme of First Fortnight events at the Gallery