Národní galerie v Praze – Klášter sv. Anežky České: Madonna of Březnice

As @medievalpoc pointed out, the text on Mary’s halo, “Women of Jerusalem, I am dark but beautiful …,” can be translated as ’and’ instead of ‘but’ and the latter is “often seen is a deliberate mistranslation …”

This is a striking small painting in Prague’s National Gallery in the equally beautiful Convent of St. Agnes of Bohemia, I think the most superb collection of mediæval art I’ve yet seen. I tweeted it, and as it’s become quite popular (for me), and as I’m in the middle of culling 340 images down to something bloggable, I thought I’d at least post this with the text from the caption. The third image is the backside, with the inscription as described below.

Madonna of Březnice
Prague, 1396
Origins allegedly in the Augustinian Canonry in Roudnice nad Labem, later in the Castle Chapel in Březnice at Příbram on loan from the Bishopric of České Budéjovice.

The painting of the Madonna was commissioned by the Bohemian King Wenceslas IV in 1396, as reads the inscription on the rear. The painter used the St Luke Marian painting of the Byzantine type Hodegetria (Periblebtos) housed in Roudnice nad Labem as the model for his panel. The dark incarnate of the Madonna is explained in the Latin inscription from the biblical Song of Songs (1,5): “Women of Jerusalem, I am dark but beautiful …,” which appears on the Mary’s halo.