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

Triptych of Jan Floreins (reverse)

1479
Oil on oak panel, 48 x 25 cm (each wing)
Memlingmuseum, Sint-Janshospitaal, Bruges

The closed triptych does not feature a grisaille, but the realistic figures of St John the Baptist and St Veronica seen through a richly decorated late-Gothic arch. They are seated before a rocky landscape that continues across both panels, with a broad river in the background. This is the Jordan, and in the distance we see a tiny representation of the Baptism of Christ. The white sculptures on either side of each arch depict Adam and Eve before the Fall (left wing) and their expulsion from the Garden of Eden (right wing) - the events that gave rise to the need for Redemption through the Incarnation (represented by the open triptych). The same two saints are united again in a now dispersed diptych (Munich-Washington), which might have been commissioned as a private devotional work by the same patron.

The figure of St John on the reverse of the left wing was held around that period to be a self-portrait of the artist, because Jacob van Oost the Elder made an engraving of it, which he identified in that way.




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