Closer to Memling


Diptych of Maarten van Nieuwenhove

Hans Memling
Bruges (Belgium)
52.4 x 82.8 cm

Oil on panel
Musea Brugge,
Museum Sint-Janshospitaal, Bruges


This diptych shows, on the left, the Virgin Mary and the Child Jesus. On the right, you see the patron Maarten van Nieuwenhove. The work offers us a unique glimpse of a Flemish interior with a view of (presumably) the Minnewater (Lake of Love) in Bruges. In the window behind the Virgin, you can see the patron’s coat of arms. Maarten van Nieuwenhove himself sits, hands folded, before a window that depicts his patron saint. Before him lies an open book of hours, whose lock features his crest. With his mouth slightly open, he seems to be mumbling a prayer. At first glance, Mary and Child seem to appear in a vision, but a convex mirror behind the Virgin makes it clear that they are all in the same room. Jesus sits on a brocade cushion and grasps an apple that Mary holds out to him. The apple foreshadows his destiny: to die to save humanity. At the bottom of the frame the following inscription is across the full width of both panels: HOC OPVS FIERI FECIT MARTINVS DE NEWENHOVEN ANNO DM 1487 / AN° VERO ETATIS SVE 23.