Netherlandish School. Influenced at first by Dirk Bouts, he maintained with some success the old tradition of his school in sacred subjects, though he is more popularly known by his satirical pieces such as The Banker and his Wife.
LONDON, NATIONAL GALLERY
THE CRUCIFIXION The Magdalene kneels at the foot of the cross, St. Mary kneeling behind her on the right. Beyond stands Salome, and on the left of the cross St. John, and next to him the Virgin. Trees and a castle in the left middle distance, and in the centre horsemen riding away. The landscape is ascribed to Patinir.
Similar pictures attributed to Massys are in the Leichenstein Gallery, Vienna, the Louvre, and at Munich.
Presented by Queen Victoria, at the wish of the Prince Consort, in 1863:
THE BANKER AND HIS WIFE Two half-length figures seated facing us behind a table covered with a green cloth. On the left the banker in a blue furred gown and black cap weighing gold coins, and on the right his wife in a red dress trimmed with grey fur and a brown hat, with a missal in her hands, leaning slightly towards her husband. On the table a crystal cup, a black velvet bag full of pearls, and a round mirror, in which is the reflection of a man reading near a window. Against the wall behind are shelves, on which are various articles.
Signed on a roll of paper “Quentin Matsys, Schilder, 1518.”
PIETA A triptych painted in 1508 for the joiners’ Guild for the altar in their chapel in the Cathedral. In the centre the body of Christ at the foot of the cross mourned over by His friends and the holy women; the Virgin, sunk in the deepest grief, is supported by St. John; Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus, both very old men, sustain the head and trunk, while the holy women anoint the wounds. The figures are nearly life size, and so arranged that each appears distinct and significant.
On the right wing the head of John the Baptist is placed on Herod’s table, and musicians are playing on the top of an arch.
On the left wing is John the Evangelist in the cauldron of boiling oil, the executioners stirring the fire while the onlookers are disputing. In the background the Emperor Domitian and eight attendants, all mounted.
THE LEGEND OF ST. ANNE A triptych. On the central panel is a group of fifteen life-sized figures; St. Anne and the Virgin are seated side by side facing us under a portico opening on to a landscape, and round about them are divers other members of the Holy Family.
On the wings are Joachim’s offering, the angel’s announcement to oachim, and Joachim and St. Anne distributing their goods to the poor. Commissioned in 1507 by the Confraternity of St. Anne at Louvain for their chapel in the Church of St. Pierre. Taken to Paris in 1794, but restored in 1815 to St. Pierre.
Purchased by the State in 1879 for 200,000 francs.
LA VIERGE DES SEPT DOULEURS. The Virgin sits at the foot of the cross with the dead Saviour stretched across her knees, the head to our left, at which she looks down. A large sword stretches across the picture from the left, the point of which pierces her bosom.
On either side of the canvas are three circular medallions, those on our left representing the Circumcision, the Flight into Egypt, and Christ with the Doctors in the Temple; and those on our right Christ bearing the Cross, the Crucifixion, and the Entombment.
Probably painted soon after 1505. It has suffered a great deal from restoration.
MASTER OF THE DEATH OF THE VIRGIN, THE. (See CLEEF).
MASTER OF THE LIFE OF THE VIRGIN, THE School of Cologne. Active 1463-1480. Apparently influenced by Lochner or Bouts. So called from the eight scenes from the life of the Virgin noticed below, which were painted c. 1470 for the altar in St. Ursula, Cologne.
LONDON, NATIONAL GALLERY
THE PRESENTATION IN THE TEMPLE In the centre an altar. Before it, on the step, Simeon, in profile to left, taking the Child, wrapped in a thin white scarf, from the Virgin, who stands on the step to the left, with St. Joseph behind her holding a candle. Behind him three women and a man. On the right stand six figures. Gold background, paved floor. (This is the last of the series.)
Presented by Queen Victoria, by the wish of the Prince Consort, in 1863.
THE MEETING OF JOACHIM AND ANNA The scene is a bare landscape with a road coming down the centre, and the walls of the city ranging along the right. In the distance on the left Joachim, in a long cloak and cap, is asking his way of a shepherd seated among his sheep. In the middle distance, nearer the centre, he is listening to the angel, and in the right foreground he stands embracing Anna at the gate of the city.
THE BIRTH OF THE VIRGIN To the right, in a large room paved with tiles and hung breast-high with arras round the plain walls, is a large double bed, the foot of which is in the centre of the picture. To the left are two women sitting in front of a flat round basin on the floor, into which a third, nearest the centre, is emptying a cauldron of water, while the one next her dips her hands into the basin, trying its warmth. On the right another woman, kneeling, opens a long chest at the bedside, and offers a towel, which she has taken out of it, to the others. In the centre background, between the foot of the bed and the wall, two women stand talking, and to the right two more lean over the bed, one of them taking the infant from its mother, who lies on her back on the farther side of the bed. All the women, except the maid nearest the centre, have white veils over their heads.
THE PRESENTATION OF THE VIRGIN IN THE TEMPLE In the centre is a Gothic church without its western wall, approached by three flights of shallow steps, in the centre of which is the diminutive figure of the Virgin advancing towards Simeon, who stands at the top of the steps awaiting her. In the foreground, left and right, are groups of six and seven much larger figures in varied costumes, and in the centre two tiny dogs at play.
THE MARRIAGE OF THE VIRGIN The Virgin and St. Joseph, left and right, kneel facing each other, the priest standing between them in front of an altar joining their right hands. On the left and right stand groups of five and seven figures.
THE ANNUNCIATION The Virgin kneels at a carved wooden desk on the right facing us, the angel in a brocaded cope delivering his message from the left. The two figures are enclosed by the three sides of a large pew of carved wood set on a tiled floor. Two groups of little angels are peeping over the sides, and above, in the centre, are two still smaller groups and the Father.
THE VISITATION Four figures in the foreground of an open landscape. In the centre the Virgin (left) and St. Elizabeth standing face to face shaking hands. To the right a maid carrying a pair of pattens. In the left foreground the donor, an elderly man, kneeling in prayer, and in front of him a large representation of his arms and crest-a stag’s head.
THE ASSUMPTION OF THE VIRGIN In the upper centre the Virgin, supported by two little angels, is received into heaven by Christ. Below is a large stone sarcophagus, the sides carved with saints in niches, at the ends of which, left and right, are the twelve Apostles looking upwards in adoration, the two nearest the centre kneeling.