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Baptism of Christ

Gerard David
1502 - 1508
182 cm x 132.2 cm
Inventory number: 
Groeninge Museum Bruges
Category A: Flemish primitives
16th century Bruges painting Christs Portraits Saints
Religious scenes

In a splendid landscape that runs across the three panels, the baptism of Christ by John is portrayed. Jesus stands in the Jordan with the Holy Ghost directly above him in the form of a dove, and still higher, God the Father in Heaven. The angel that holds the clothing of Christ wears a richly embroidered garment that bishops wore during the services of the sacraments of baptism and marriage. In the background, other events are played out of the life of John: on the left are his preachings and to the right, the moment at which he presents Jesus to the onlookers with the words, “There is the Lamb of God”. The landscape is highly refined in execution with attention to the representation of purifying plants that symbolise the purifying aspect of baptism. The triptych was ordered by Jan de Trompes around 1502, who is depicted on the left panel, along with his son and patron saint, John the Evangelist. Jan’s first wife, Elisabeth van der Meersch, stands along with her patron saint, Elisabeth of Hungary and her four daughters on the right panel. The closed triptych shows the saint Mary Magdalene who presents Jan’s second wife, Magdalena Cordier to Mary and her Child.