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Christ with singing and music-making Angels

Hans Memling
672 cm x 165 cm
Inventory number: 
Royal Museum of Fine Arts Antwerp
Category A: Flemish primitives
15th century Christs
Religious scenes

Christ is surrounded by angels against a golden background and encircled by clouds. On the hem of his alb is “Agyos Atheos”, or Holy God. The mantle with three precious gemstones refers to the personification of the Holy Trinity. The crown and glass chasuble with cross indicate that he is the liege over the Christian world. The choir cap is set off with a board and golden fabric, ornamented with geometric motives in which the precious gems and pearls are woven. The angels are garbed in flannel and gold brocade. They sing and play hymns of praise. The musical instruments are readily recognisable: psalterium, tromba marina, lute, trumpet, shawm, straight trumpet, looped trumpet, portable organ, harp and viol. The panels make up a portion of what must have been a gigantic altarpiece. It hangs in the cloister church of Santa Maria la Real in the Spanish Náreja. Presumably these three paintings formed the upper register, with a life-sized Ascension of Mary below, flanked by saints, apostles and martyrs. Probably below there was also a predella and two relic cabinets. The remaining pieces have gone lost.