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The Morrison triptych: a visiting masterpiece

6 November 2003 – 11 June 2004

Philadelphia Museum of Art
26th Street and the Benjamin Franklin Parkway
Philadelphia, PA 19130
USA



Curators

Lloyd DeWitt, Assistant Curator, John G. Johnson Collection
Mark Tucker, Senior Conservator of Paintings

From the exhibition website

The Morrison Triptych, on loan from the Toledo Museum of Art, is a sophisticated, visually stunning masterpiece of early 16th-century Flemish painting. Most likely made in Antwerp around 1500, it was later owned by the 19th-century English collector Alfred Morrison, from whom it takes its name. Beautifully preserved, the altarpiece was painted by an unidentified artist who is called the "Master of the Morrison Triptych" after this extraordinary example of his work. On loan for the first time to an East Coast museum, the altarpiece is the subject of a special installation in the museum’s galleries of Medieval and Renaissance Art.

The installation presents for the first time in decades, if not centuries, this object of exquisite beauty much as it was seen 500 years ago, newly restored and reflecting recent discoveries that have raised appreciation of the ingenuity and skill of the artist. Study of the painting has revealed, among other things, how the artist took the common triptych form (a central painting flanked by paintings on two shutters that close over it) and by dispensing with the frames that typically surrounded the shutters, achieved incomparable qualities of illusion. The painting even contains clues to the color of wall that it was painted to be seen against, and that color has been recreated in the installation.