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Maître des demi-figures de femmes

Descent from the Cross


Maître des demi-figures de femmes
Active in Antwerp or Bruges, about 1525-1550


Descent from the Cross


Oil on wood


44.2 x 28.5 cm


Adaline Van Horne Bequest, inv. 1945.900


Western Art

This prolific artist’s nickname derives from the fact that he specialized in half-lengths of idealized females dressed elegantly and often shown reading, writing or playing musical instruments. Their type is distinctive: pretty, with dark hair, heart-shaped faces and lowered eyelids, straight and narrow noses, high foreheads and thin, raised eyebrows, posed in three-quarter view. The artist also executed small altars and meditational pieces like ours, featuring such verdant landscapes with rocky outcropping reflecting the influence of Patinir, the Master’s probable teacher in Antwerp. If the artist does not explore emotion, his figures being vacuous and “prettified”, their charm and delicacy, his luminous, enamel-like colours, ensured him an enduring popularity. The figure wearing a red hat helping lower Christ’s body can be identified as Joseph of Arimathea. An elegantly dressed Magdalene kneels at the base of the ladder, while the swooning Virgin is supported by the apostle John. The two women behind them are probably Martha and Mary.

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