One will immediately see a similarity to one of the artist's most famous paintings, namely The Rolin Madonna (La Vierge au Chancelier Rolin). The composition bears many of the same attributes and also much of the detail is carried from one to the other. The tiled floor plus the respective positions of the two adult figures are near identical. Madonna of Nicolas van Maelbeke also made use of van Eyck's skills in depicting architectural features and a small gap is left in the background from which a simple but bright sky can show through, helping to illuminate the rest of the detail. You will notice how this piece actually had two winged artworks alongside, in line with a number of triptychs that have been attributed to the artist.

Nicolas Maelbeke commissioned this painting on behalf of the Saint Martin monastery in Ypres and it is he who appears within the central panel. Typically it would be requested that the patron be included alongside holy figures as a means to establish their own legacy, but normally the artist would feature them on a side panel instead, as a sort of compromise that avoided altering the main theme of the piece too much. There have also been a number of drawings made from the painting that give us further evidence of how it would have looked at the time. We believe that they may have been completed by members of his studio as a means to recording elements of the piece for later reflection and perhaps to be re-used for other projects.

The copy that you find pictured here is located in the collection of the Germanisches Nationalmuseum which is based in Nuremberg, Germany. Their collection goes far beyond just art, featuring a great number of German antiquities as well as a variety of other items from around the world which date back to colonial times, and perhaps way before even that in some cases. There are also some particularly interesting paintings which can loosely be connected to the career of Jan van Eyck, either geographically or stylistically. For example, a number of Durer paintings can be found here including a portrait of the artist's own mother. Aside from that, you may also be interested in the likes of Judith with the Head of Holophernes, by Hans Baldung Grien, a portrait of Martin Luther by Lucas Cranach the Elder, as well as his Venus and Cupid, the Honey Thief. More recent work to be found here include a number of pieces by August Macke and Ernst Ludwig Kirchner from the early 20th century.