Calvary of Hendrik van Rijn

CC0

Artist / maker

Anonieme Meester, 14de eeuw (painter)

Date

c. 1363

Period

14th century
Pray for me This is a straightforward scene. Christ, dead on the cross, is shown at the centre with his mother Mary on the left and his young disciple John on the right. The Sun appears in the upper left corner and the Moon upper right, alluding to the eclipse that is said to have occurred at Christ’s death. The…
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Pray for me This is a straightforward scene. Christ, dead on the cross, is shown at the centre with his mother Mary on the left and his young disciple John on the right. The Sun appears in the upper left corner and the Moon upper right, alluding to the eclipse that is said to have occurred at Christ’s death. The skull at the foot of the cross is that of Adam, the very first human being. According to tradition, he was buried at the spot where Christ was crucified. The juxtaposition of skull and cross offers a simple illustration of what is a crucial turning-point in Christian doctrine: Adam and Eve brought sin into the world, while Jesus, the son of God, has to die on the cross to redeem humanity of that same sin. The kneeling man is significantly smaller than the other figures. The inscription at the bottom identifies him as Hendrik van Rijn, a priest of St John’s Church in Utrecht and the person who commissioned the painting. He probably did so shortly before his death in 1363 to hang by his tomb. The inscription also invites churchgoers to pray for Van Rijn. The date is important as it tells us that this work by an unidentified artist is one of the earliest examples of panel painting in the Low Countries. It dates from more than half a century before the emergence of ‘Flemish Primitives’ such as Jan van Eyck. The gold-leaf ground is made up of square tiles, each containing the same embossed relief: a circle with a lion rampant (standing upright with its front paws raised). Other examples are found quite regularly in fourteenth-century paintings from north-west Europe. The lion also features in Hendrik van Rijn’s red robe as his family had a coat of arms that incorporated three lions. Koen Bulckens in collectieboek KMSKA
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Vlaamse Kunstcollectie - EN

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