(b. ca. 1465, ?, d. 1519, Palencia)

The Temptation of Christ

c. 1500
Oil on panel, 21 x 16 cm
National Gallery of Art, Washington

Juan de Flandes was trained in the Ghent-Bruges school, and very little is known about him. The only indications of his early life are his style as a painter and the generic name given him in Spain. Even his twenty-three years in Castile are sparsely documented and known mostly through contracts and official records. He is first recorded in the payrolls of Isabella's servants in 1496, and stayed on at court until her death eight years later. Little remains of this period of activity, except for the altarpiece of St John the Baptist, executed for the Charterhouse of Miraflores (surviving panels are in the Museum van der Bergh, Antwerp, Museum of Art, Cleveland, Musée d'art et d'histoire, Geneva and private collection) and part of the magnificent work of art known as the Polyptych of Isabella the Catholic. This polyptych originally comprised forty-seven small panels (each measuring about 21 x 16 centimetres). Approximately twenty-seven survive, of which two were executed by Michel Sittow.

The Temptation of Christ, one of the surviving panels of the polyptych, reveals Juan de Flandes's origin in the art of Hugo van der Goes and his follower the Master of Mary Burgundy, whose precise, delicate style of miniature painting he adapted to works in oil on panel.