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Masterwork by Netherlandish Renaissance Painter coming to LA

March 25, 2012

Ecce Homo, 1544. Maerten van Heemskerck, (Netherlandish, 1498–1574). Oil on panel. Center panel: 74 1/2 x 52 ¼ inches framed; left wing: 72 1/4 x 24 5/8 inches; right wing: 74 1/4 x 25 ½ inches. Muzeum Narodowe w Warszawie

Amid the dire news about cuts public in funding at European institutions, it’s nice to hear this bit of good news from the Getty – a large, dramatic and impressive triptych by the Netherlandish Renaissance master Maerten van Heesmskerck will be on loan to the Getty from Warsaw for six months beginning in June.  The Ecce Homo is significant for many reasons, among them: “Many of Heemskerck’s religious paintings were destroyed by Protestant iconoclasts who attacked churches and destroyed objects associated with the Catholic faith across the Netherlands in 1566. The Ecce Homo triptych stands out as an important survivor of that tumultuous period.”

About the painting’s history:

The Ecce Homo decorated the family chapel of wealthy sheriff Jan van Drenckwaerdt in the Augustinian church in Dordrecht, the Netherlands, between about 1544 and 1572. The altarpiece, which is more than 6 feet wide when fully opened, features five scenes:  the central panel depicts the Ecce Homo (in which Pilate presents Christ to the crowd which calls for his crucifixion), a popular subject in Renaissance art; the left interior wing features the patron,  Jan van Drenckwaerdt and St. John the Evangelist; Jan’s wife, Margaretha de Jonge van Baertwyck and St. Margaret of Antioch appear on the right interior wing; and St. John the Evangelist and St. Margaret of Antioch are painted in grisaille on the left and right exterior panels. The triptych retains its original 16th-century frame, which features an elaborate carved architectural surrounding for the central panel.


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