WEYDEN, Rogier van der
(b. 1400, Tournai, d. 1464, Bruxelles)

St Luke Drawing a Portrait of the Madonna

Oil on canvas transferred from wood, 103 x 109 cm
The Hermitage, St. Petersburg

A sixth-century legend presents Luke as the painter of a number of icons of the Virgin. He is therefore given the status of the painter "par excellence", able to capture even the Virgin on canvas. Luke has been the patron of various painters' guilds since the fifteenth century.

Depicted in the background of the painting are Mary's parents, Joachim and Anne. The evangelist, who supposedly practiced medicine, is shown dressed like a Flemish doctor; in the Middle Ages he was considered the patron saint of painters, physicians, and apothecaries. It has been suggested that this is a self-portrait. The way in which Luke holds the stylus resembles the technique artists used to avoid smudging drawings with the heel of the hand.

There are a few versions of this painting the most significants being in Boston and Munich.