This morning it was announced that the Groeninge Museum (Musea Brugge) has received on loan a previously unknown altarpiece by the Bruges Master of the Legend of Saint Lucy.
The Master of the Legend of Saint Lucy is an anonymous painter who by some is associated with the 15-century painter François van der Putte. Not only did he receive commissions from local donors, such as Donaas de Moor and Adrienne De Vos, but also orders from foreign merchants in Reval (modern-day Tallinn in Estonia) and Pisa.
The monumental triptych (176cm high x 290cm wide, when opened), which since the 18th Century has been in a chapel of the Dominican church in Spanish Lekeitio, is distinctive for this painter with its splendour of colour. Just as with the altarpiece that is already present in the Groenige Museum of Saint Nicholas (of which three side panels were given on loan by the Flemish Community, the new triptych fits in with the work of Dieric Bouts and Hugo van der Goes with respect to style.
On the middle panel, the monumental presentation of the Lamentation of Christ is to be seen, with a fictional image of Jerusalem in the background. On the left panel the patron kneels before his patron saint, Saint Dominic. On the right panel an exquisitely dressed woman is depicted, along with Saint Francis. Also on the backside, saints are to be seen: on the left is Saint Anthony of Padua, on the right is the Franciscan Saint Bernard of Sienna.
It is not known who the patrons of this monumental triptych were. The female patron's red garment with the white ermine suggests wealth. Presumably it deals with a special, high-standing noble person, and the family had a close connection with the Franciscans.
Perhaps the triptych was even ordered for the Bruges Minderbroeder's Church in the Braambergstraat, where in addition to the Florentine nation, the Catalan was also present with institutions.
The Triptych with the Lamentation, which now is being exhibited for the long term in the Groeninge Museum, was auctioned a few years ago in Bilbao. The interest of a Spanish private collector was piqued when the Spanish government had classified it immediately as a masterpiece. Because of the purchase it did come directly onto the foreign art market and thus gain importance. After months of negotiations between the Groeninge Museum and the owner, ultimately an agreement was struck for the loan period of three years. After this, the license is possibly extended. ‘It is always an especially emotional moment when you see a masterpiece for the first time. I am also extremely proud that we are able to add this important testimony of the Bruges art of painting to our top collection' says Director Till-Holger Borchert.
(News item May 4, 2016)