USE AND DEVELOPMENT: Life after death

Rogier van der Weyden, Portrait of Philippe de Croÿ

In the Referee by Rogier van der Weyden (KMSKA, Antwerp), on the timepiece, reads: ‘Man lives out the time that is measure for him and does not receive any more'. Death and moreover the preparation for the life after death is of enormous importance, such as with the last sacraments in Van der Weyden's The Seven Sacraments (KMSKA, Antwerp). In addtion to this, there are countless instances in which the dying person asks for help from the Virgin Mary or a saint. An example of this is the Stairway of the Saints by Goswin van der Weyden (KMSKA, Antwerp), Antonius Tsgrooten asks Mary for an intercession. Mary ask support from Jesus as a mother and in turn, he shows his wounds and intruments of the Passion to his father. For the most part we only see two steps, such as in Jan van Eyck's Madonna and Canon Joris van der Paele (Groeninge Museum, Bruges). In diptychs, the donor asks, depicted on the right side, intercession by the Virgin, portrayed on the left side. Gradually Death and the memento mori (‘Know that you are mortal') take on a greater role as, for example, the skull on the backside of a painting.

Nanny Schrijvers