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Rogier van der Weyden
Netherlandish School. Rogier de la Pasture, or Rogier van der Weyden. Pupil of Robert Campin.
THE SEVEN SACRAMENTS Three panels representing the nave and side aisles of a church seen from the western end. From the foreground in the centre rises a lofty crucifix, the Saviour's body being on a level with the clerestory and triforium, at the foot of which are ;grouped St. John supporting the Virgin, and two holy women. Far beyond, at the high altar, the priest is elevating the Host.
In contrast to this traditional or symbolical treatment of the principal Sacrament are the realistic groups ranged along the aisles, which are little more than half the height of the nave, representing on one side Baptism, Confirmation, and Confession, and on the other Ordination, Marriage, and Extreme Unction.
Painted between 1440 and 1460.
THE EPIPHANY ALTAR Centre.-THE ADORATION OF THE KINGS The ruined stable occupies nearly the whole of the background, but a distant city is seen through its arches and at the left side. The Virgin is seated in front of it, full face, and at her left knee Caspar kneels kissing the hand of the Child. Melchior and Baltasar with their offerings stand to the right, and Joseph to the left, behind whom is the kneeling figure of the unknown donor.
Left Wing.-THE ANNUNCIATION The Virgin is kneeling at a desk on the right of a narrow chamber, turn ing her head at the approach of Gabriel, who stands on the left. In the fore-round on the tiled floor is a lily pot. In the backbround a bed with hangings,
Right Wing.-THE PRESENTATION.
At a small altar in a Norman cathedral the aged Simeon on the right receives the Child from His mother, dressed as a nun, who stands in the centre facing him. Just behind her to the left stands a girl with a basket in her left hand, and holding up her skirt with the right. Between the two women's heads is seen that of Joseph, and a candle which he is carrying.
Painted in 1460.
ST. LUKE PAINTING THE VIRGIN On either side of a narrow apartment opening at the back on to a broad terrace between two slender pillars are the Virgin and St. Luke. The former is sitting half turned to our right, with the Child on her left side, whom she is suckling from her right side. St. Luke in a long loose gown and fez cap kneels on his right knee facing her, paper in one hand and pencil in the other. The Virgin is bareheaded, and wears a long mantle, whose ample folds are spread over the tiled floor. Behind her is hung a brocaded cloth of honour. Leaning over the parapet of the terrace are seen the small figures of a man and woman looking at the vista of river flanked with houses that stretches into the distance.
THE MIRAFLORES ALTAR-PIECE Three panels, each enclosed in a frame of late Gothic design, with a round arch opening into a small portico containing the scenes following. A landscape background is seen through the slender pillars at the back of the middle and right portico, but that on the left is backed by a hanging of brocade.
Left (The Holy Family).-The Virgin in a long white robe sits on the left adoring the Child, who lies on her lap. On the right is St. Joseph sitting with his hands on the top of his staff, apparently asleep.
Middle.-The Virgin, fronting us, holds the body of Christ across her left knee with her hands clasped in front of it. Behind her on the left stands St. John in a plain robe, with hands outstretched towards her, and on the right St. Joseph and Arimathea.
Right.-Christ, advancing from the left, appears to the Virgin, who is seated to the right. She is dressed like a nun. She raises her hands as she turns her eyes on Him.
From the Carthusian Monastery of Miraflores, near Burgos, in Spain.
THE MIDDLEBURGH (OR BLADELIN) ALTAR-PIECE A square panel, the open shutters on either side being half the width. The Virgin kneels, turned slightly to the left, adoring the Child, who lies at her feet, under a thatched ruin, the forepart of which rests on a slender pillar. At the left of this pillar 5t. Joseph kneels, and opposite to him on the right of the picture the donor, Peter Bladelin, bareheaded, in a long black tunic edged with fur, kneels with joined hands. Two little angels kneel at the Child's head inside the ruin, and two more fly above the roof. The background on the right is a street in a city.
On the left shutter (o.9I x o.40) the Tiburine Sibyl stands in profile at the left; her right hand on the shoulder of Augustus Caesar, who kneels with his back to us looking at a vision of the Virgin seen through a window at the back. On the right are three men standing. The Sibyl is in a long robe and white head-dress, the Caesar in a long purple robe whose folds cover half the tiled floor.
On the right shutter 0.91 x o.40) are the three Kings, two kneeling and one standing, turned towards the left, their gaze uplifted towards a vision of the Child in the sky over a wide landscape.
Painted for the high altar of the Church at Middleburgh, Brabant, about 1450, and considered one of Rogier's masterpieces.
THE VIRGIN AND CHILD WITH SAINTS The Virgin stands in the centre on a stone pedestal under a canopy with the Child in her arms. She is in a red robe and blue mantle, and her fair hair falls over her shoulders. To the left stands St. Peter, and between him and the Virgin St. John the Baptist. To the right St. Cosmo and 5t. Damian in costume of the artist's time. The picture is seen through a stone frame, on which are three shields, one of them bearing the arms of the city of Florence.
Painted for Cosimo de' Medici.
THE ENTOMBMENT The whole of the middle ground is filled by a large rock, in the face of which is the square opening of the tomb. In front of this, facing us, stand Joseph of Arimathea and an Apostle upholding between them the dead Christ, whose feet rest on the stone slab from the mouth of the tomb, which lies in the foreground to the right. The Saviour's arms are outstretched, the right being held up by Mary, standing to left, and the left by St. John, standing on the slab to the right. In the centre foregound an angel kneels with hands outstretched downwards as he looks up at the Saviour. In the centre background are seen the three crosses over the top of the rock, and on either side landscape with buildings.
Supposed to have been the painting mentioned by Bartolommeo Fazio in 1445 and by Cyriac d'Ancona in 1449 as being in the collection of Lionel d'Este, Marquis of Ferrara. The two wings, representing Adam and Eve and a kneeling donor, are lost.
( Originally Publihed 1910 )