WEYDEN, Rogier van der
(b. 1400, Tournai, d. 1464, Bruxelles)
St Columba Altarpiece (detail)c. 1455
Oil on oak panel
Alte Pinakothek, Munich
The picture shows a detail of the Presentation in the Temple, the right panel of the altarpiece executed for the St Columba church in Cologne.
According to Mosaic law, all firstborn sons had to be presented to God in the temple. When Mary and Joseph carried out this duty, the pious old Simeon recognized the child as the Redeemer whom, according to a prophecy, he was to see before he died. He thanks God with the words, "Lord, now lettest thou they servant depart in peace, according to thy word." The old prophetess Anna, who also recognizes the Christ, is standing behind Simeon. The servant behind Mary is holding two doves for the sacrifice of purification that followed childbirth.
Traces of the late Romanesque church of St. Gereon in Cologne seem to have entered into the architecture of the temple on the right wing - the polygonal rotunda, the gallery, and the small buttresses on the outside.