This delicate silverpoint drawing of the Virgin and Child has been attributed to a number of Flemish fifteenth-century artists and their workshops, including Hugo van der Goes (1405-1482), the younger Dirk Bouts (ca. 1410-1475), and the later school of Rogier van der Weyden (ca. 1400-1464). The drawing compares favorably in style to a painting of the Virgin and Child by a follower of Hugo van der Goes in the Musées Royaux des Beaux-Arts, Brussels (no. 4506). Because of the monogram I.M., which is inscribed to the right of the Virgin’s head in brown ink and not silverpoint, this drawing also has been attributed to Israhel van Meckenem (ca. 1445-1503); however, these initials could also be the monogram for Christ and Mary.
The drawing is incomplete, having been trimmed into an arched shape at the top and now missing part of the left side (the Virgin's elbow and the Christ Child's feet). A sixteenth-century print (with reversed composition) in the British Museum, London, is a copy of the Dumbarton Oaks drawing and preserves the entire composition (cf. W.H. Willshire, Catalogue of Early Prints in the British Museum, German and Flemish Schools vol. 2 [London, 1883], 452, no. 29).
This drawing was formerly in the Collection of Empress Catherine the Great of Russia who had acquired it in 1767. Having passed to the Hermitage Museum collection in St. Petersburg, it was sold by the Soviets in 1932 through the Leipzig dealer Hans Boerner.
Handzeichnungen alter Meister des XV. bis XVIII. Jahrhunderts aus den Beständen der Ermitage zu Leningrad, Versteigerung am Mittwoch den 4. Mai 1932 durch C.G. Boerner in Leipzig. Leipzig, 1932, 32, no. 139, pl. 12.
Dupont, Jacques. La Peinture Flamande de Van Eyck à Bruegel. Paris: A. Calavas, 1935, 110, no. 197.
Tietze, Hans. European Master Drawings in the United States. New York: J.J. Augustin, , 12-13, no. 6, ill.
Boon, Karel G. "Naar aanleiding van tekeningen van Hugo van der Goes en zijn school," Nederlandsch Kunsthistorisch Jaarboek (1950-1951), 84-86, fig. 2.
Panofsky, Erwin. Early Netherlandish Painting, its Origins and Character, Vol. 1. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1953, 334, note 3, and 500.
Winkler, Friedrich. Das Werk des Hugo van der Goes. Berlin: De Gruyter, 1964, 278.
Comblen-Sonkes, Micheline. Dessins du XVe Siècle: Groupe Van Der Weyden, essai de catalogue des originaux du maître, des copies et des dessins anonymes inspirés par son style . Brussels: [Centre national de recherches "Primitifs flamands"], 1969, 199-200, no. D15, pl. 50a.
Sell, Stacey and Hugo Chapman. Drawing in Silver and Gold, Leonardo to Jasper Johns. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2015, 33, 34, 53, 276, pl. 13.
"La Peinture Flamande de Van Eyck à Bruegel," Musée de l'Orangerie, Paris, 1935, no. 197.
"Seldom Seen," Dumbarton Oaks, Washington, D.C., April 21, 2014.
"Drawing in Silver and Gold, Leonardo to Jasper Johns," National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C., 5/3/2015-7/26/2015, and The British Museum, London, 9/10-12/6/2015, Cat. No. 13.
Collection of Ivan Ivanovich Betzky [or Betzkoi or Betzkoj], St. Petersburg, before 1767.
Collection of Catherine II (the Great), St. Petersburg, acquired from the Betzky Collection, 1767.
Russian Academy of Arts, St. Petersburg.
Hermitage Museum, Leningrad.
Sold through C.G. Boerner (dealer), Leipzig, 5/4/1932, no. 139.
Purchased from Bacri Frères Antiquaires, Paris (inv. no. 4332), by Mildred and Robert Woods Bliss, 4/23/1936.
Collection of Mildred and Robert Woods Bliss, Washington, D.C., 4/23/1936-11/29/1940.
Dumbarton Oaks Research Library and Collection, House Collection, Washington, D.C.