MEMLING, Hans
(b. ca. 1440, Seligenstadt, d. 1494, Bruges)

St John Altarpiece (closed)

1474-79
Oil on oak panel, 176 x 78,9 cm (each wing)
Memlingmuseum, Sint-Janshospitaal, Bruges

The closed wings depict the donors - two monks and two nuns - at prayer in a niche topped with Gothic open tracery. Their patron saints stand to the rear (from left to right, James the Great, Anthony the Great, Agnes and Clare).

The donors were identified. Jacob de Ceuninc was initially recorded as a monk at the hospital in 1469-70, and later as bursar from 1488 until his death in 1490. Antheunis Seghers was first mentioned in 1455-56 and appears to have been master from 1461 to 1465, bursar from 1466 to 1468, and then master again from 1469 until his death in 1475. Agnes Casembrood was first recorded in 1445-46, and subsequently appears as prioress from 1459 to 1463, and again from 1469 until her death in 1489. Clara van Hulsen makes her initial appearance in the records in 1427-1428, and died in 1479. Given that these are evidently intended as portraits, the altarpiece must have been ordered before the death of Antheunis Seghers in 1475, which means that its production may logically be linked with the expansion of the chapel's apse in 1473- 74 though we lack details of Jacob de Ceuninc and Clara van Hulsen in those years.




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