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

Portrait of Anthony of Burgundy

1467-70
Oil on 45 x 35,5 cm
Gemäldegalerie, Dresden

An almost equally large version of this portrait is in the Musée Condé, Chantilly. The man is depicted shoulder-length against a plain dark green background, behind a stone sill, on which his right hand rests. The chain of the Order of the Golden Fleece hangs around his neck. The identification is based on the motto and on older copies bearing the name of the subject.

Probably born in about 1430, Anthony of Burgundy was a bastard son of Philip the Good and Jeanne de Presles. He was knighted in 1452 and admitted to the Order of the Golden Fleece in 1456. Both portraits are clearly based on a single prototype, whose style and conception indicate that it must have been painted by Memling. Although other opinions existed in the past, there is now a broad consensus to this effect. The Chantilly version features powerful and contrasting modelling and might have been produced before the end of the fifteenth century. The Dresden copy is weaker and might not have been executed until some time in the sixteenth century. The reverse is also fairly heavily damaged. Nevertheless, it shows the same inscriptions. It is usually the Chantilly version, therefore, which is referred to when seeking to evoke the original.

In view of the costume and age of the subject, the original work must have been painted in around 1467-70, and will thus have belonged to Memling's earliest known portraits.




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