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The Dormition

Hugo van der Goes
1470 - 1472
122 cm x 147.8 cm
Inventory number: 
Groeninge Museum Bruges
Category A: Flemish primitives
15th century Lives of Mary
Religious scenes

On the bed lies the corpse-pale Virgin, shrouded in a blue cloak. Her hands lay folded in her lap. Around the deathbed a group of apostles gather in a circle. This group of saints display deep spiritual distress, doubt and human angst. Above, Christ appears in a halo amongst floating angels who are there to escort Mary’s soul into Heaven. Various apostles can be identified. Peter, as a priest, takes the candle of the dying from Thomas in order to place it between the folded hands of Mary. John sits on the right side, bowed over the deathbed and next to him Jacob Minor is found, who according to the Legenda Aurea, resembled Christ. Van der Goes found the inspiration for this tableau in the apocryphal gospels and the Legenda Aurea. Therein is the story contained about how all of the apostles were brought together in miraculous way at the death of Mary around her deathbed.