Anthony van Dyck featured the Virgin Mary on several occasions in his career, with this religious symbol providing perfect inspiration for emotive scenes. Such topics were particularly common in the earlier stages of his career whilst later on he would receive large numbers of commissioned portraits. That said, this particular work arrived in 1628 by which point most of his artistic development had already taken place.
The Jesuit sodality in Antwerp had welcomed the artist into their ranks before commissioning his services for several paintings, including this one. There are some similarities between this painting and two earlier artworks by Gerard Seghers and Peter Paul Rubens, both of which he is likely to have seen before commencing this piece.
Van Dyck was skilled in depicting architectural features within his background scenes and there is a delicately lit pillar sitting at the back of this painting. Such an addition brings a real sense of class and history to the main figures in the foreground. An angel's wings are also carefully detailed, with the main focus of light drawing out the main facial features of the three figures.
This oil on canvas painting can be found at the Kunsthistorisches Museum in Vienna and is normally on display as part of their permanent collection. Alongside this complex piece you can also enjoy original paintings by the likes of Jan van Eyck, Caravaggio, Johannes Vermeer, Pieter Brueghel the Elder and Thomas Gainsborough.