Devotional imagery of the Counter Reformation is central to this painting. This "picture in a picture" is reminiscent of a Madonna on a grey house façade that has been decorated with flowers for a holiday. Yet those depicted are not merely image copies, but seem to be almost alive and enjoying the adornment. Rubens expresses here the dogmatic fact that it is not the image that is to be venerated, but the Madonna herself. Rubens had his friend Jan Brueghel (nicknamed Velvet Bruegel) known for his way with painting flowers, paint the garland. - The unusual motif of the Madonna at the cradle was already depicted in prints before Rubens.