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Virgin nursing the Christ Child: MAR.M.255-1912

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Object information

Current Location: In storage


Virgin nursing the Christ Child


Maker: Limosin, Jean (signed Jehan) I
Maker: Limosin, Jean II




Copper, olychrome enamels and gold. A a half-length figure of the Virgin holding the Christ Child to her breast, against a black ground strewn with gold stars, titled S.MARIA, and initialled IL with an ill-defined fleur-de-lys or cross between the letters

Rectangular, convex copper plaque with a small circular hole in each corner, decorated with translucent, blue, green, mulberry and purple enamels, and yellowish-brown, pinkish-red, grey, black and white enamels, and gilded. The outlines are executed in black, and the flesh areas are hatched and cross-hatched in grey and black, and stippled in pinkish-red. The counter-enamel is transparent.
A half-length figure of the Virgin holding the Christ Child to her breast with her right hand and helping him to feed with her left. The Virgin has a blue and purple headdress over her brownish-yellow hair, and wears a purple and mulberry gown with long blue sleeves, and a blue cloak. The Christ Child wears a white napkin. There are small gold plants on the green ground below, and the black ground above is semé with gold stars around the large striated halo of the Virgin. At the bottom below a gold lines, is a horizontal black band inscribed S.MARIA’ beween stylized plant sprays, and on the extreme right the initials ‘I L’ with an ill-defined fleur-de-lys or cross between them, all in gold. A narrow gold line runs round the outer edge of the plaque.


History note: Uncertain before testator

Legal notes

C.B. Marlay Bequest

Measurements and weight

Height: 9.9 cm
Width: 7.1 cm

Place(s) associated

  • Limoges ⪼ Haute Vienne ⪼ France

Acquisition and important dates

Method of acquisition: Bequeathed (1912) by Marlay, Charles Brinsley


17th Century, second quarter#
Circa 1625 CE - 1645 CE


Jean Limosin I was one of several sons of François Limosin ( c. 1550-1606-15). His brothers, Leonard, and Joseph also became enamellers. He was born about 1580 and died in 1646. He was not mentioned in the role for the taille in 1602. He married Anne Chambinaud, probably about 1605, when he acted as a witness when her widowed mother, Marie, née Dupin, sold a vineyard, house, and garden. The couple lived in the rue Manigne, and had six children of whom the second son, Jean died in 1652.

The earlier attribution of this plaque to Jean Laudin was probably made in error for Jacques Laudin I or II who signed with the initials ‘.I.L.’, but without a fleur-de-lys or cross between the letters. The latter version is associated with Jean or Jehan I Limosin (c. 1580; d. 1646) .

The image of the Virgin breast-feeding the Infant Christ (Virgo lactens) was copied from a print etched and engraved by Annibale Carracci (1560-1609) in about 1585-7. A similar image occurs on a plaque with arched top, attributed to Jean Limosin (Victoria and Albert Museum 2804-1856) which has rather more prominent hatched shading and no title at the bottom.The rectangular format is comparable to plaques of the Virgin and Child in the Musée des Arts décoratifs, Paris, and St Catherine of Alexandria attributed by Philipppe Verdier to Jean II Limosin, in the Walters Art Gallery, Baltimore, which has a star-strewn background and S CATHARINA in gold on a horizontal panel at the bottom followed by the artist’s initials with a clear fleur-de-lys beween them. (See Documentation) An unsigned plaque of St Agnes, similarly titled, and of the same size as the Fitzwilliam’s, attributed to Jean II Limosin, was with Bernard Descheemaeker, in Antwerp in 2009.

People, subjects and objects depicted

Components of the work

Back composed of enamel ( clear counter enamel)
Decoration composed of enamel ( translucent, blue, green, mulberry and purple enamels and yellowish-brown, pinkish-red, grey, black and white) gold
Plaque composed of copper

Inscription or legends present

  • Text: S.MARIA
  • Location: On front at the bottom
  • Method of creation: Painted in
  • Type: Inscription

Inscription present: with an ill-defined fleur-de-lys or cross between letters

  • Text: ‘I L
  • Location: On front in lower right corner
  • Method of creation: Painted in gold
  • Type: Initials

Inscription present: circular paper label inscribed in faded black ink

  • Text: Jean/Laudin/MARLAY/1912
  • Location: On back
  • Method of creation: Hand-written in faded black ink
  • Type: Label

References and bibliographic entries

Identification numbers

Accession number: MAR.M.255-1912
Primary reference Number: 156450
Stable URI

Audit data

Created: Saturday 6 August 2011 Updated: Tuesday 23 October 2018 Last processed: Thursday 7 December 2023

Associated departments & institutions

Owner or interested party: The Fitzwilliam Museum
Associated department: Applied Arts

Citation for print

This record can be cited in the Harvard Bibliographic style using the text below:

The Fitzwilliam Museum (2023) "Virgin nursing the Christ Child" Web page available at: Accessed: 2023-12-08 07:29:36

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{{cite web|url= |title=Virgin nursing the Christ Child |author=The Fitzwilliam Museum|accessdate=2023-12-08 07:29:36|publisher=The University of Cambridge}}

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