Christ Taking Leave Of His Mother – Gerard David

The earliest mention of Gerard David that has come down to us is found in Guicciardini’s Description of the Low Countries, 1528, in which his name occurs in the list of prominent painters “also Gerard, known to be among the best illuminators.” The fact that besides being an excellent painter David was equally prominent as the chief of the great school of miniaturists of Bruges in the early sixteenth century should not be overlooked. Indeed, his first recorded commission, in 1488, was in the nature of miniature painting; namely, the decorating of the iron window bars of the prison where the citizens of Bruges shut up the Emperor Maximilian, who had displeased them.

On account of the miniature-like quality of this little painting, it forms a valuable addition to the artist’s representation in the museum. Several paintings by him or from his school are shown in Gallery 34, but the only one which is similar in treatment to this picture is the triptych by his pupil Adrian Isenbrandt from the Lippman Collection. The figures are shown about half length against a gold back-ground; Christ stands at the right, the Virgin and the two other Marys at the left. The picture is de-scribed and illustrated in the supplement to the Zeitschrif t für Bildende Kunst, May, 1911, in which Wilhelm Valentiner deals with the pictures by David which have passed into American collections since the publication of Bodenhausen’s book on David in 1905. Here it is referred to as having been executed during the later part of the artist’s full maturity.