Near them are two peacocks, symbols of immortality, but perhaps also of the pride to which such a powerful man as Chancellor Rolin might well succumb.
The most surprising feature in this splendid picture is without doubt the townscape that stretches out beyond the loggia. The crenellated battlements indicate that the palace is in fact a fortress, built on the edge of an escarpment.
Below, a broad meandering river with an island in its midst flows through the heart of a city. The humbler areas of the town lie to the left, behind Chancellor Rolin.
On the right, behind the Virgin, are the wealthy quarters, with a profusion of buildings, dominated by an imposing Gothic church. Countless tiny figures are flocking towards this part of town, across the bridge and through the roads and squares.
Meanwhile on the river, boats are arriving and putting into shore. It is as if all mankind, united by faith, were travelling in pilgrimage towards this city and its cathedral.
In the distance, the horizon is closed off by snow-capped mountains under a pinky-yellow sky. In the opinion of Charles de Tolnay, this painting represents a comprehensive vision of the entire universe.