Virgin Mary with Four Saints

Antonín Kern

Antonín Kern - Virgin Mary with Four Saints
The composition, figural types and bright colours of Kern’s painting of the so-called Holy Conversation prove the close following of the works of his Venetian teacher Giovanni Battista Pittoni. However, the painting was designed for Bohemia, as can be seen in the selection of the saints surrounding the Madonna. Conspicuous among them is St Margaret, a graceful and finely dressed figure. She mediates the narrative of the painting to the viewer, pointing to the Madonna and Child, who turn to St John of Nepomuk, who is bringing his tongue on a shell, as a symbol of his martyrdom of confessional secret. As a contrast to John’s taciturnity, there is the eloquence of the charismatic Franciscan preacher St Anthony of Padua, standing behind him. St Wenceslas in an ermine-lined cloak, rather unusually represented as an elderly bearded man, deepens up the space with his sweeping gesture, joining in collective reverence to God’s mother.
measurements: height 171,5 cm
width 112 cm
material: canvas
technique: oil
inventory number: DO 5429
gallery collection: Collection of Old Masters

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