The Bladelin Altarpiece, or Middelburg Altarpiece, is a triptych painting created around 1450 by the Flemish painter Rogier van der Weyden, towards the end of his artistic career. The work depicts scenes relating to the birth of Jesus; it is the only nativity scene definitively attributed to van der Weyden, and so is also known as the Nativity Triptych (although the Saint Columba Altarpiece shows the Adoration of the Magi). It was donated to the new church of the town of Middelburg in 1460, possibly by Pieter Bladelin, who founded the town. It has been in the Gemäldegalerie, Berlin, since 1834.
The large central panel depicts the birth of Jesus, with Virgin and Child in the stable at Bethlehem, accompanied by beasts and angels. The composition draws much from the 1420 Nativity of van der Weyden's master, Robert Campin, in Dijon. The stable is a half-ruined thatched Romanesque building, rather than the traditional wooden hut, with stone walls and arched windows, and one prominent classical pillar, uniquely in van der Weyden's work shown in an oblique perspective view. Three adult figures are kneeling, worshiping the Christ Child. Mary is wearing a light blue gown, with a deep blue cloak; to the left, Joseph in a red gown holds a lighted candle, balanced by a donor portrait of man in black clothes, kneeling outside the stable to the right. Below Joseph is a large metal grate, possibly covering the mouth of an underground cistern. In the background, to the left, is a tiny scene of an angel announcing the birth of Jesus to shepherds, while to the right is a city scene with a road, walls and towers.
The two smaller side panels show related scenes. The left panel draws from the Speculum Humanae Salvationis and depicts the legendary occasion when the Roman Emperor Augustus consulted the Tiburtine Sibyl to ask if he was the greatest man on earth and if he should consent to being worshiped as a god; the Sybil revealed to him a vision of the Virgin and Child, and Augustus then reputedly founded an altar in Rome to the "firstborn of god" (Ara primogeniti Dei) at the location now occupied by the Ara Coeli. The emperor is kneeling next to the Sybil, looking towards the central panel to observe the vision through a window symbolically marked with the double-headed eagle of the Habsburgs; to his right stand three attendants, possible based on courtiers of the Philip the Good; all are wearing 15th century Flemish dress. The right panel shows the arrival of the three Magi in Bethlehem, bearing gifts; they kneel facing towards the central panel to observe a vision of an infant Christ Child.
The side panels of the altarpiece would only be opened to reveal the brightly coloured images inside for church services at the weekend and on other special occasions. Most of the time, the doors would be closed, concealing the main images within. The outside surfaces of the side panels were decorated by an unknown artist with a grisaille of the Annunciation, with the Virgin Mary to the left, with a red curtain and a vase with a symbolic lily, and the Angel Gabriel to the right with a speech scroll bearing the words "AVE GRAZIA PLENA" (Latin: "Hail [Mary] full of grace"). As a result, the triptych has four Annunciation scenes: one to Mary on the outside, and three inside: one to Augustus, one to the Magi, and one to the shepherds.
The middle panel measures 93.5 by 92 centimetres (36.8 in × 36.2 in). The left panel measures 93.5 by 41.8 centimetres (36.8 in × 16.5 in), and the right panel is fractionally smaller, measuring 93.5 by 41.5 centimetres (36.8 in × 16.3 in).
The work may have been donated by Pieter Bladelin (c. 1410-72), treasurer of Philip the Good, Duke of Burgundy, as the altarpiece for the new town church of Saints Peter and Paul in Middelburg in Flanders. Bladelin founded the town in 1450 and devoted much effort to its construction as a personal project. The church was consecrated by the French bishop Jean Chevrot shortly before the bishop's death in 1460. However, there is only a single donor portrait, a man dressed in black with a fur-trimmed cloak and pointed wooden sandals, and it would have been more usual for Bladelin to be accompanied by his wife, Margerite van de Vageviere, leading to some doubt about the identity of the donor. The castle depicted in the middle panel is thought to that in Middelburg.
The painting has been in the collection of the Gemäldegalerie, Berlin, since 1834.
Hugo van der Goes was one of the most significant and original Flemish painters of the late 15th century. Van der Goes was an important painter of altarpieces as well as portraits. He introduced important innovations in painting through his monumental style, use of a specific colour range and individualistic manner of portraiture. From 1483 onwards, the presence of his masterpiece, the Portinari Triptych, in Florence played a role in the development of realism and the use of colour in Italian Renaissance art.
The Mérode Altarpiece is an oil on oak panel triptych, now in The Cloisters, in New York City. It is unsigned and undated, but attributed to Early Netherlandish painter Robert Campin and an assistant. The three panels represent, from left to right, the donors kneeling in prayer in a garden, the moment of the Annunciation to Mary, which is set in a contemporary, domestic setting, and Saint Joseph, a carpenter with the tools of his trade. The many elements of religious symbolism include the lily and fountain, and the Holy Spirit represented by the rays of light coming through from the left hand window.
The Portinari Altarpiece or Portinari Triptych is an oil on wood triptych painting by the Flemish painter Hugo van der Goes, commissioned by Tommaso Portinari, representing the Adoration of the Shepherds. It measures 253 x 304 cm, and is now in the Galleria degli Uffizi in Florence, Italy. This altarpiece is filled with figures and religious symbols. Of all the late fifteenth century Flemish artworks, this painting is said to be the most studied.
The Adoration of the Magi or The Epiphany is a triptych oil painting on wood panel by the Netherlandish artist Hieronymus Bosch, executed around 1485–1500. It is housed in the Museo del Prado of Madrid, Spain.
The Beaune Altarpiece is a large polyptych c. 1445–1450 altarpiece by the Early Netherlandish artist Rogier van der Weyden, painted in oil on oak panels with parts later transferred to canvas. It consists of fifteen paintings on nine panels, of which six are painted on both sides. Unusually for the period, it retains some of its original frames.
The Nativity of Jesus has been a major subject of Christian art since the 4th century.
The Dresden Triptych is a very small hinged-triptych altarpiece by the Early Netherlandish painter Jan van Eyck. It consists of five individual panel paintings: a central inner panel, and two double-sided wings. It is signed and dated 1437, and in a permanent collection of the Gemäldegalerie Alte Meister, Dresden, with the panels still in their original frames. The only extant triptych attributed to van Eyck, and the only non-portrait signed with his personal motto, ALC IXH XAN, the triptych can be placed at the midpoint of his known works. It echoes a number of the motifs of his earlier works while marking an advancement in his ability in handling depth of space, and establishes iconographic elements of Marian portraiture that were to become widespread by the latter half of the 15th century. Elisabeth Dhanens describes it as "the most charming, delicate and appealing work by Jan van Eyck that has survived".
The Werl Triptych is a triptych altarpiece completed in Cologne in 1438, of which the center panel has been lost. The two remaining wings are now in the Prado in Madrid. It was long attributed to the Master of Flémalle, now generally believed to have been Robert Campin, although this identity is not universally accepted. Some art historians believe it may have been painted as a pastiche by either the workshop or a follower of Campin or the Master of Flémalle.
The Miraflores Altarpiece is a c. 1442-5 oil-on-oak wood panel altarpiece by the Early Netherlandish painter Rogier van der Weyden, in the Gemäldegalerie, Berlin since 1850. The three panels are each 71 x 43 cm and show, from left to right, a portrait of the Holy Family, a Pietà and Christ's appearance to Mary—a chronological reading of the birth, death and resurrection of Jesus, with Mary the focus of both wings. The altarpiece examines Mary's relationship with Christ at different stages of his life. It is notable for its use of colour, distinguished by its use of whites, reds and blues, and use of line—notably the line of Christ's body in the central panel—and, typically of van der Weyden, its emotional impact.
The Master of the Prado Adoration of the Magi was a Netherlandish painter active between c. 1475 and 1500 whose identity is now lost. He is thought to have originated from the southern Netherlands and is known for his vibrant colourisation in panels depicting scenes from the infancy of Christ, he is thought to have been a pupil of Rogier van der Weyden, and is named after a copy of the "Adoration of the Magi" panel from that painter's St Columba Altarpiece. Although the Magi became a popular topic for northern painters in the second half of the 15th century and the Columba altarpiece was widely copied, the master is associated with van der Weyden's workshop because the copy is so close, it is believed he must have had access to a reproduction of the underdrawing.
The Monforte Altarpiece is an oil on oak panel painting of the Adoration of the Magi by the Flemish painter Hugo van der Goes, now in the Gemäldegalerie, Berlin, Germany. The altarpiece was originally the central panel of a triptych with movable wings that are now lost; these were probably painted on both sides. This is shown by the hinges remaining in the original frame. Old copies of the work show the Nativity and Circumcision of Jesus on the wing panels. The central panel has been reduced in size at the top.
The Nativity is a devotional mid-1450s oil-on-wood panel painting by the Early Netherlandish painter Petrus Christus. It shows a nativity scene with grisaille archways and trompe-l'œil sculptured reliefs. Christus was influenced by the first generation of Netherlandish artists, especially Jan van Eyck and Rogier van der Weyden, and the panel is characteristic of the simplicity and naturalism of art of that period. Placing archways as a framing device is a typical van der Weyden device, and here likely borrowed from that artist's Altar of Saint John and Miraflores Altarpiece. Yet Christus adapts these painterly motifs to a uniquely mid-15th century sensibility, and the unusually large panel – perhaps painted as a central altarpiece panel for a triptych – is nuanced and visually complex. It shows his usual harmonious composition and employment of one-point-perspective, especially evident in the geometric forms of the shed's roof, and his bold use of color. It is one of Christus's most important works. Max Friedländer definitely attributed the panel to Christus in 1930, concluding that "in scope and importance, [it] is superior to all other known creations of this master."
Triptych of the Virgin's Life is an oil on panel painting by the Early Netherlandish painter Dieric Bouts. It was executed circa 1445 and is in the collection of the Museo del Prado.
The St John Altarpiece is a large oil-on-oak hinged-triptych altarpiece completed around 1479 by the Early Netherlandish master painter Hans Memling. It was commissioned in the mid-1470s in Bruges for the Old St. John's Hospital (Sint-Janshospitaal) during the building of a new apse. It is signed and dated 1479 on the original frame – its date of installation – and is today still at the hospital in the Memling museum.
The St John Altarpiece is a c. 1455 oil-on-oak wood panel altarpiece by the Early Netherlandish painter Rogier van der Weyden, now in the Gemäldegalerie, Berlin. The triptych is linked to the artist's earlier Miraflores Altarpiece in its symbolic motifs, format and intention.
The Annunciation is an oil painting on oak panel attributed to Early Netherlandish painter Hans Memling. It depicts the Annunciation, the archangel Gabriel's announcement to the Virgin Mary that she would conceive and become the mother of Jesus, described in the Gospel of Luke. The painting was completed c. 1482 and was partially transferred to canvas in the 1920s; it is today held in the Robert Lehman collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.
The Saint Columba Altarpiece is a large c. 1455 oil-on-oak wood panel altarpiece by Early Netherlandish painter Rogier van der Weyden, now in the Alte Pinakothek, Munich.
The Roudnice Altarpiece is a three-part winged altar from the provost's church in Roudnice nad Labem, one of the oldest completely preserved Gothic retables from the period around 1410-1420. It is on display in the permanent exhibition of the National Gallery in Prague.
St George's Altar is a large Gothic altarpiece from the 1460s-70s, originally placed in the St George's Convent at Prague Castle. It belongs to the property of the Metropolitan Chapter of St. Vitus and is on loan to the exhibition of medieval art of the National Gallery in Prague.