WEYDEN, Rogier van der
(b. 1400, Tournai, d. 1464, Bruxelles)
The Last Judgment Polyptych (reverse side)1446-52
Oil on wood
Musée de l'Hôtel-Dieu, Beaune
As long as the polyptych hung in its original place, it was traditional to open the wings on Sundays and solemn feast days. But since it has been restored, it is now kept in a neighbouring room which is air-conditioned to prevent any further deterioration due to the heat generated by the three hundred thousand visitors who come to see it each year. The panels were sawn in half across the thickness of the wood a few years ago, and both front and the reverse are now exhibited simultaneously, side by side.
The reverse of the panels of the polyptych depict the donors. Nicolas Rolin is an old man, whose nose is too long and whose hair has been cut short. Guigonne de Salins lowers her eyes and gestures with her joined hands towards her book of hours; on her head she wears a starched net veil. Behind each of them, an angel is carrying a shield emblazoned with their respective coats-of-arms. Rolin is facing towards an elegant imitation statue of St Sebastian executed in grey tint, as if carved from marble. His wife is looking towards another imitation statue, this time of St Anthony, who is accompanied by a young pig.