HEEMSKERCK, Maerten van
(b. 1498, Heemskerck, d. 1574, Haarlem)

St Luke Painting the Virgin and Child

Oil on panel, 168 x 235 cm
Frans Halsmuseum, Haarlem

St Luke was the patron saint of artists' professional associations, the guilds of St Luke. Van Heemskerk painted this picture for the Haarlem Guild of St Luke. The painting hung high above the guild's altar in the Church of St Bavo.

Heemskerck's interpretation of this theme is remarkably different from those of his predecessors, Rogier van der Weyden or Jan Gossart. The setting is barren, with a blank wall behind the evenly placed figures as if they were part of a deeply cut frieze. Even more surprising, St Luke executes his icon at night with an internal torchlight providing the only illumination.