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

Nativity

1475-1500
Oil on oak panel, 99,2 x 72,3 cm
Private collection

The composition is a large-scale variant of the left wing of the Floreins triptych. So detailed are the figures in their execution and so precisely do the architecture and the landscape match Memling's style that an unknown work by the master must lie at its basis. After all, it is difficult to believe that a follower would be capable of producing such a penetrating, complex and monumental variant in the master's pure style of an existing small composition. The general pictorial treatment is harder and more contrasting than we are accustomed to in autograph works, and leans more towards the Master of the Legend of St Lucy. If it is indeed by that master, then it is his technically most accomplished work. It might also be based on a design provided by Memling which was executed by another painter (in his workshop?). The painting would appear at any rate to date from the final quarter of the fifteenth century. It was unknown until relatively recently.




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