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

Donor

c. 1490
Oil on oak panel, 45 x 32 cm
Muzeul National de Arta, Bucharest

A number of correspondences, including dimensions, origins and inscriptions prove that the three fragments In Bucharest (the Standing Virgin and Child and the two panels with donors) belong together. They were cut down to matching size obviously before 1656. The Virgin, who is clearly standing up as she reaches the height of the column capitals and does not have the Child on her lap, has been cut in half. The donors, who are kneeling, have been trimmed at the top and bottom to more or less the same height. It is extremely difficult after so much time to determine why the painting was mutilated in this way. The darker colour to the man's right, and above all the red drapery to the woman's left, seem to be original, at least in part and are thus likely to be remnants of the patron saints who originally stood alongside the donors . The hypothesis that the three paintings originally belonged to a single fixed panel is strengthened by the half dowel-holes that are still to be seen on the inner edges of the portraits. The three panels are thus fragments of the original vertical planks of the painting, which were linked by internal dowel pegs. We ought, therefore, to imagine a composition similar to the Virgin with donor in Ottawa, but with an extra figure on the opposite side. If there was a little more space above the Virgin, the original panel must have measured roughly 100 x 100 cm.

The landscape behind the man is painted over a piece of wood inset at a later date. Similar triangular pieces have also been inserted to the left and right of the woman. Like the horizontal strip above the heads in both panels, these additions (to replace damaged or sawn-out sections?) were already present in 1656, when the panels were part of the collection of Leopold Wilhelm.




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