DAVID, Gerard
(b. ca. 1460, Oudewater, d. 1523, Bruges)

The Doria-Pamphili Diptych (left wing)

Oil on oak panel, 40 x 22 cm
Galleria Doria Pamphilj, Rome

The left wing of the diptych depicts the Virgin and Child in the Church, while the right wing the donor Antonio Siciliano and St Anthony.

The diptych was commissioned by Antonio Siciliano who served as chamberlain and secretary to Massimiliano Sforza, the Duke of Milan. In 1513 he was dispatched to Margaret of Austria in Mechelen on a diplomatic mission. It is assumed that Siciliano commissioned the painting from Gossart, who about 1513 worked at Margaret's court in Mechelen.

However, the authorship of the diptych is debated, especially that of the donor (right) wing. Several alternative suggestions were proposed, the authorship being connected to the Antwerp Mannerists or to the artists contributing to the Grimani Breviary. Presently the right wing is attributed to Jan Gossart.

The left panel is attributed to Gerard David. This attribution is supported by recent technical examination. More than any other Bruges painter, David inherited Jan van Eyck's legacy. The left panel of the diptych is an adaptation of van Eyck's Madonna in the Church. David made adjustments to the earlier model: he centred the Virgin in a wider view of the nave, added a third arch to the choir screen, and closed off the composition at the right with a series of columns matching those of the bays opposite.