A portrait of Francisco de Rojas, painted by Hans Memling in the fifteenth century, is returning to the city of Bruges, where it was painted. The panel is a donation from American philanthropist and CODART Patron Bill Middendorf. John William Middendorf, known as Bill, became US ambassador to the Netherlands in 1969 and was made Ambassador to the European Union in 1985. Middendorf had a long and fruitful professional career but is also an enthusiastic art collector, particularly of old masters from the Low Countries.
The portrait is thought to be Francisco de Rojas, a descendant of a Spanish noble family and Ambassador of Spain to the Burgundian court. On the right-hand panel stood a female figure, probably Mary, reading. It is no longer known with certainty what was on the central panel, although there are indications that it was the crucifixion of Christ. The new acquisition will be on display at St. John’s Hospital where it joins six other works by Memling.