MASSYS, Quentin
(b. 1465/66, Leuven, d. 1530, Antwerpen)

St John Altarpiece (right wing)

Oil on wood
Koninklijk Museum voor Schone Kunsten, Antwerp

The right hand panel is a scene of extraordinary cruelty, depicting St John, his body plunged into a cauldron of boiling oil. The saint, who is naked from the waist up, seems almost angelic, as if he were not suffering. Around him is a crowd of sadistic faces, ugly boors in garish clothes. The one exception to this rule is the figure of a young Flemish boy, who is watching the scene from above in a tree.