CODART, Dutch and Flemish art in museums worldwide

Vlaamse primitieven: de mooiste tweeluiken

Prayers and portraits: unfolding the Netherlandish diptych Exhibition: 3 March - 27 May 2007


Master of 1499, Diptych with the angel Gabriel and the Virgin
Berlin, Gemäldegalerie


National Gallery of Art, Washington
Koninklijk Museum voor Schone Kunsten, Antwerp
Harvard University Art Museums, Cambridge

From the website of the National Gallery of Art, Washington

This exhibition, the first devoted to the subject, will bring together more than 40 Netherlandish diptychs consisting of over 80 15th- and 16th-century paintings from museums and private collections in Europe and the United States. The diptych format — essentially two hinged panels that can be opened and closed like a book — allowed for a great variety of subject matter. The exhibition will reunite paintings now owned by different institutions, such as Rogier van der Weyden’s portrait of Philippe de Croy, to be reunited with his Madonna and Child (c. 1460), and Michael Sittow’s portrait of Diego de Guevara (?) brought together with a Virgin and Child (c. 1515/1518). Both pairs are examples of a popular type of diptych which showed a donor portrayed in one painting praying to the Madonna and Child, pictured on the other panel.

Diptychs were often of small size and used for private devotion. Included is an important example by Hans Memling that influenced Raphael, a diptych that pairs Saint Veronica with Saint John the Baptist (c.1470/1475). The exhibition will examine diptychs in the context of contemporaneous texts and religious practices in northern Europe, including the popular movement called the Modern Devotion (Devotio Moderna). In addition, many of the diptychs have been subject to extensive technical examinations that shed light on painting techniques, workshop practice, and the art market in the Netherlands.


Prayers and portraits: unfolding the Netherlandish diptych

John Oliver Hand, Catherine A. Metzger and Ron Spronk
Catalogue of an exhibition held in 2006-07 in Washington (National Gallery of Art) and in 2007 in Antwerp (Koninklijk Museum voor Schone Kunsten)
229 pp., 32 x 24 cm., richly illustrated, hardbound
Washington (National Gallery of Art), Antwerp (Koninklijk Museum voor Schone Kunsten) in association iwth Harvard University Art Museums, Cambridge and New Haven and London (Yale University Press) 2006
ISBN 0-300-12155-5

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