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Moreel Triptych

Hans Memling
291 cm x 121.1 cm
Inventory number: 
Groeninge Museum Bruges
Category A: Flemish primitives
15th century Bruges painting Portraits Saints
Religious scenes
Retables Triptychs

The triptych is dedicated to three saints, who are depicted on the middle panel. In the central position stands Christopher, who crosses the river with the Infant Jesus on his shoulders. The flowering staff in his hand and the hermit who sheds light on the bank from a cavern belong to the fixed attributes of the saint. On the other side of the bank stand two other saints: on the left is a monk with a crook staff and an open book—Saint Maurus—and on the right, Saint Gillis with the doe and an arrow in his hand. On the side panels, over which the landscape is continued, the patrons of the work are kneeling with their children. The man is protected by Saint Wilhemus van Maleval, while the woman is protected by Saint Barbara. This deals with Willem Moreel, an important Bruges politician and his wife Barbara van Vlaenderbergh, alias van Hertsvelde. Saint Maurus and Saint Gillis are chosen as a function of the family name Moreel and Hertsvelde. Maurus and Moreel have a singular etymology, while the hart of Saint Gillis points to the name Hertsvelde. Given and family name of the patrons are thus here symbolically represented by the coupling of the patron saints on the side panel to the saint in the middle panel. When closed, the panels show John the Baptist in grisaille. The work was intended for the Bruges Saint James’s Church, where the couple was interred.