Oil on wood
Framed: 41.3 x 31.4 x 4.1 cm (16 1/4 x 12 3/8 x 1 5/8 in.); Unframed: 31.5 x 22 cm (12 3/8 x 8 11/16 in.)
Delia E. Holden and L. E. Holden Funds 1934.29
This small panel was once part of a devotional portrait diptych (a hinged two-panel painting). The Christ child’s attention seems drawn to something outside the picture and lifts his hand in recognition. The opposing panel, once hinged on the right, would have featured a portrait of its original owner in prayer, now unfortunately lost. Such devotional portrait diptychs were popular after 1400 and remained so until their production ceased around the 1530s. Used in private chapels or within the curtain folds of four-poster beds, they could easily be closed when not in use. Hans Memling was born near Frankfurt, Germany. He settled in Bruges around 1465 where he developed a reputation for his painting skills, and provided works to the Burgundian court, which likely cultivated the taste for small portrait diptychs. This example seems to have been painted by a member of Memling’s workshop, perhaps for a wealthy merchant or clergyman.
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