USE AND DEVELOPMENT: Devotion

Hans Memling, Dyptich of Maarten van Nieuwenhove

In Medieval art, God, the saints and the affiliated devotion are usually the most used, central themes. The worship of God and the veneration of the saints and reliquaries belong to the daily concerns and the devotion of the bourgeoise elite, nobility, religious world and the common man, both in the city as well as the countryside. Pilgrimages place the veneration of the deceased saints at the centre. Hermits embody the ideal of the pious devotion as ‘living' saints. Cloisters, abbeys and churches are portals to Heaven. The attainment of immortality, eternal life purified by the proximity of God and saints in the hereafter are the strident goals of everyone. Medieval, devotional art mirrored this world of thought. The paintings with devotional character by the Flemish primitives are products that constitute an insoluble part of life's journey on the way towards spiritual purification. The commissioners of devotionally inspired works of art in this way hope to secure an eternal place in Heaven for themselves. These works always influence the imagery associated with devotion.

Sibylla Goegebuer