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

Portinari Triptych (central panel)

1487
Oil on wood, 41,5 x 31,5 cm
Staatliche Museen, Berlin

In the Triptych of Benedetto Portinari the adoration of the Virgin takes place in an open loggia. Benedetto's patron saint Benedict, appears in the left wing. The wings are known to have originated in the hospice of Santa Maria Nuova in Florence, which was founded by the Portinari family. The identification of the subject as Tommaso Portinari's nephew has not been proven, but is probable. His motto DE BONO IN MELIVS appears on the rear of the portrait in a banderole wrapped around an oak stump from which a new twig springs. This is the only devotional triptych to survive intact and it suggests that the triptychs showing a husband and wife were of the same type - with three evenly sized panels folding shut over one another like a box, leaving the coat-of-arms or motto visible on the outside.

The central panel of the triptych depicts the Virgin and Child in a landscape. The left wing represents St Benedict, the patron saint of the donor, while the right wing is the portrait of the donor, Benedetto di Tommaso Portinari. Both wings are in the Galleria degli Uffizi in Florence.




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