About This Artwork

Hans Memling
Netherlandish, 1435/40–1494

Virgin and Child, 1485/90

Oil on panel
Frame: 41.1 x 33.4 cm (16 3/16 x 13 1/8 in.)
Painted surface: 34.5 x 26.8 cm (14 1/16 x 10 1/2 in.)

Mr. and Mrs. Martin A. Ryerson Collection, 1933.1050

Hans Memling probably worked with Rogier van der Weyden in Brussels before settling in Bruges in 1465. Van der Weyden was well known for his exquisite devotional diptychs, and Memling was influenced by his work, though he made his paired paintings more realistic by setting the figures in a measurable domestic space. This portrait of the unidentified patron and the image of the Virgin and Child were separated many years ago; they were reunited at the Art Institute of Chicago in 1953. Unfortunately, Portrait of a Man in Prayer is in very poor condition; much better preserved is the image Saint Anthony of Padua, presumably the sitter’s patron saint, on the reverse of the portrait. The saint was painted in subdued tones of gray, in imitation of stone, a convention often used on the backs of Netherlandish altarpieces. Anthony of Padua, an important early follower of Saint Francis, was more popular in Italy, Spain and Portugal than in the Low Countries, hence the diptych may have been made for a member of the large foreign community in Bruges.

Exhibition, Publication and Ownership Histories

Exhibition History

Madrid, Exposición histórico-Europea, 1892–93.5

Art Institute of Chicago, A Century of Progress, 1933, no. 50, pl. 9.

Art Institute of Chicago, A Century of Progress, 1934, no. 125.

Art Institute of Chicago, The Christmas Story in Art, 1938–39 (no cat.).

Art Institute of Chicago, Masterpiece of the Month, Nov. 1941 (no cat.).

Art Institute of Chicago, The Art of the Edge: European Picture Frames, 1300–1900, 1986, no. 34.

The Art Institute of Chicago, New Light on Old Masters: Research on Northern European and Spanish Paintings before 1600 in the Art Institute, 26 June—14 September 2008, no cat.

Publication History

Henri Hymans, “Notes sur quelques oeuvres d’art conservées
en Espagne,” Gazette des Beaux-Arts, 3rd ser., 12 (1894), pp. 159–60.

The Art Institute of Chicago, Handbook of Sculpture, Architecture, Paintings, and Drawings, vol. 2, August 1920, p. 63.

Max J. Friedländer, “About Some of Hans Memling’s Pictures in the United States,” Art in America 8 (1920), p. 115.

Max J. Friedländer, Von Eyck bis Bruegel: Studien zur Geschichte der niederländischen Malerei, 2nd ed., Berlin, 1921, p. 188.

The Art Institute of Chicago, Handbook of Sculpture, Architecture, and Paintings, May 1922, p. 72.

The Art Institute of Chicago, A Guide to the Paintings in the Permanent Collection, 1925, p. 160, no. 2059.

Rose Mary Fischkin, “Martin A. Ryerson Collection of Paintings and Sculpture, XIII to XVII Century, Loaned to The Art Institute of Chicago,” unpub. MS, 1926, Ryerson Library, The Art Institute of Chicago, pp. 73–74.

Max J. Friedländer, Die altniederländische Malerei, vol. 6, Berlin, 1928, pp. 126, 132, nos. 50, 92, pl. 31 (1933.1050); rev. English ed., Early Netherlandish Painting, Brussels and Leiden, 1971, pp. 52, 56, nos. 50, 92, pl. 98.

H[ans] V[ollmer], in Ulrich Thieme and Felix Becker, Allgemeines Lexikon der bildenden Künstler von der Antike bis zur Gegenwart, vol. 24, Leipzig, 1930, p. 376.

The Art Institute of Chicago, A Guide to the Paintings in the Permanent Collection, 1932, p. 181.

Alfred M. Frankfurter, “Paintings by Hans Memling in American Collections,”
Fine Arts 18, 4 (1932), p. 22.

G. W. H. “La Vie artistique aux États Unis,” Beaux-arts, n.s., 72, 23 (1933), p. 6 (ill.).

“The Century of Progress Exhibition of the Fine Arts,” AIC Bulletin 27 (1933),
pp. 60–61 (ill. 1933.1050).

Alfred M. Frankfurter, “Art in the Century of Progress,” Fine Arts 20, 2 (1933), pp. 21 (ill. 1933.1050), 60.

Daniel Catton Rich, “Die Ausstellung ‘Fünf Jahrhunderte der Frühmalerei in Chicago,’” Pantheon 6 (1933), p. 376.

Daniel Catton Rich, “The Paintings of Martin A. Ryerson,” Bulletin of the Art Institute of Chicago 27 (1933), p. 11.

Henry S. Francis, “A Madonna and Child by Hans Memling,” Bulletin of the Cleveland Museum of Art 21 (1934), pp. 138 (ill. 1933.1050), 142, 143.

Hans Tietze, Meisterwerke europäische Malerei in Amerika, Vienna 1935, pp. 132 (ill. 1933.1050), 334, no. 133b.

Julius Held, “A Diptych by Memling,” Burlington Magazine 68 (1936), pp. 176–79, pls. A–B.

“Memling’s Madonna,” Bulletin of the Art Institute of Chicago 35 (1941), p. 116 (ill. 1953.467; cover, ill. 1933.1050).

Thomas Bodkin, Dismembered Masterpieces: A Plea for Their Reconstruction by International Action, London, 1945, p. 29.

The Art Institute of Chicago, A Picture Book: Masterpieces of Painting, XV and XVI Centuries in the Collections of The Art Institute of Chicago, 1946, pp. 6–8 (ill. 1933.1050).

“The Face of Christ: A Portfolio of His Image through the Ages,” Fortune 33, 1 (1946), p. 143 (ill. 1933.1050).

Harry B. Wehle and Margaretta Salinger, A Catalogue of Early Flemish, Dutch and German Paintings, Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, 1947, p. 71.

Helen Parker, The Christmas Story: Illustrated from the Collections of the Art
Institute of Chicago, Chicago, 1949, n.pag. (ill.).

“A Tour of the World of Art in 150 Masterpieces,” Masterpieces 1 (1950), p. 50.

Charles Fabens Kelley, “Chicago: Record Years,” Art News 51, 4 (1952), p. 107.

Heinrich Schwarz, “The Mirror in Art,” Art Quarterly 15 (1952), p. 100.

Leo van Puyvelde, La Peinture flamande au siècle des Van Eyck, Paris and New York, 1953, p. 266.

Helen Comstock, “A Memling Diptych Reunited,” Connoisseur
134 (1954), p. 73 (ill.).

Heinrich Schwarz, “The Mirror of the Artist and the Mirror of the Devout: Observations on Some Paintings, Drawings and Prints of the Fifteenth Century,” in Studies in the History of Art Dedicated to William E. Suida on His Eightieth Birthday, London, 1959, pp. 99–100.

The Art Institute of Chicago, Paintings in The Art Institute of Chicago: A Catalogue of the Picture Collection, 1961, pp. 144–45 (ill.), 309–10.

Roger van Schoute, La Chapelle royale de Grenade, Corpus de la peinture des anciens Pays-Bas méridionaux au quinzième siècle, 6, Brussels, 1963, p. 75.

Sixten Ringbom, Icon to Narrative: The Rise of the Dramatic Close-up in Fifteenth-Century Devotional Painting, Åbo, 1965 (repr., Doornspijk, 1984), p. 46; 2nd ed., 1984, p. 46 n. 36.

Frederick A. Sweet, “Great Chicago Collectors,” Apollo 84 (1966), pp. 198–99, fig. 24 (1933.1050).

Maria Corti and Giorgio T. Faggin, L’opera completa di Memling, Milan, 1969, no. 28a–c.

John Maxon, The Art Institute of Chicago, London, 1970, pp. 28–29 (ill.), 283.

Jacques Vilain, “L’Autoportrait caché dans la peinture flamande du XVe siècle,”
Revue de l’art, no. 8 (1970), pp. 53, 55 n. 12.

Jan Bia_ostocki, “Man and Mirror in Painting: Reality and Transience,” in Studies in Late Medieval and Renaissance Painting in Honor of Millard Meiss, ed. Irving Lavin and John Plummer, vol. 1, New York, 1977, p. 65.

Jane B. Friedman, “An Iconological Examination of the Half-Length Devotional Portrait Diptych in the Netherlands, 1460–1530,” Ph.D. diss., University of California, Los Angeles, 1977, pp. 106–07, 113–15, fig. 25.

The Art Institute of Chicago, 100 Masterpieces, 1978, pp. 44–45, no. 8.

Vida Joyce Hull, “Hans Memling’s Paintings for the Hospital of Saint John in
Bruges,” Ph.D. diss., Bryn Mawr College, 1979 (New York, 1981), p. 219.

John D. Morse, Old Master Paintings in North America, New York, 1979, p. 198.

Susanne Bäumler, “Studien zum Adorationsdiptychon: Entstehung, Frühgeschichte und Entwicklung eines privaten Andachtsbildes mit Adorantendarstellung,” Ph.D. diss., Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität, Munich, 1983, pp. 52, 75, 169–71, cat. 12.

Larry Silver, The Paintings of Quinten Massys with Catalogue Raisonné, Montclair, N.J., 1984, p. 181, pl. 137.

Ingrid Verhoeven, “De chronologie der portretten van Hans Memling,” M.A. thesis, Licentieverhandeling, Vrije Universiteit Brussel, 1984–85, pp. 115–18, figs. 61–62.

Larry Silver, “The ‘Gothic’ Gossaert: Native and Traditional Elements in a Mabuse Madonna,” Pantheon 45 (1987), pp. 62–63, fig. 14.

Marion Grams-Thieme, Lebendige Steine: Studien zur niederländischen Grisaillemalerei des 15. und frühen 16. Jahrhunderts, Cologne, 1988, pp. 234–36.

Edwin Buijsen, “The Iconography of St. Antony of Padua in Flemish Art up to the Counter-Reformation,” Santo 29 (1989), pp. 6–7, fig. 4.

Colin Eisler, Early Netherlandish Painting: 'The Thyssen-Bornemisza Collection, London, 1989, p. 111, fig. 6.

Martha Wolff, “An Image of Compassion: Dieric Bouts’s ‘Sorrowing Madonna,’”
AIC Museum Studies 15 (1989), pp. 116–17.

Angelica Dülberg, Privatporträts: Geschichte und Ikonologie einer Gattung im 15. und 16. Jahrhundert, Berlin, 1990, pp. 69 n. 391, 164, 259, no. 236, pl. 148.

Guy Bauman and Walter A. Liedtke, Flemish Paintings in America: A Survey of Early Netherlandish and Flemish Paintings in the Public Collections of North America, Antwerp, 1992 , p. 352, nos. 344a–b.

Dirk de Vos, Hans Memling: The Complete Works, Antwerp and Ghent, 1994, pp. 220–21, 380, no. 55.
Charles H. Duncan, “Mirrors and Reflections in Early Netherlandish Painting,” M.A. thesis, School of the Art Institute of Chicago, 1994, pp. 57–64.

Laura Deborah Gelfand, “Fifteenth-Century Netherlandish Devotional Portrait Diptychs: Origins and Function,” Ph.D. diss., Case Western Reserve University, 1994, pp. 107–11.

Maximiliaan P. J. Martens, “De opdrachtgevers van Hans Memling,” in
Hans Memling: Essays, ed. Dirk de Vos, Bruges, 1994, p. 27 n. 112.

Barbara M. Thiemann, Hans Memling: Ein Beiträg zum Verständnis seiner Gestaltungsprinzipien, Frankfurt-am-Main, 1994, pp. 153–54.

Paul Mitchell and Lynn Roberts, “Frame,” in Dictionary of Art, vol. 11, 1996, pp. 439–40.

Barbara G. Lane, “The Question of Memling’s Training,” in Memling Studies: Proceedings of the International Colloquium (Bruges, 10–12 November, 1994), ed. Hélène Verougstraete, Roger van Schoute, and Maurits Smeyers, Leuven, 1997, pp. 53–70, fig. 6.

Hélène Verougstraete and Roger van Schoute, “Cadres et supports chez Memling,” in Memling Studies, p. 272, fig. 1.

Laura D. Gelfand, “Devotion, Imitation, and Social Aspirations: Fifteenth-Century Bruges and a Memling School Madonna and Child,” Cleveland Studies in the History of Art 5 (2000), p. 13.

Till-Holger Borchert, Lorne Campbell, Paula Nuttall, et al., Memling and the Art of Portraiture, exh. cat., Madrid, Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza, 2005, pp. 52, 57, 70–72, 142, 175, figs. 57–58, pl. 27.

Andrea Pearson, Envisioning Gender in Burgundian Devotional Art, 1350–1530: Experience, Authority, Resistance, Aldershot and Burlington, Vt., 2005, p. 197, no. 15.

Susan Frances Jones in Martha Wolff et al., Northern European and Spanish Paintings before 1600 in the Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago, 2008, pp. 250-59, ill.

Ownership History

Probably a Spanish convent [according to invoice from Steinmeyer, Paris, June 23, 1913 in curatorial file]. Private collection, Spain, by 1892 [according to Hymans 1894, p. 159, it was lent to the 1892–93 Madrid exhibition by a private owner]. Steinmeyer & Fils, Paris, 1913; sold to Martin A. Ryerson (d. 1932), Chicago, June 23, 1913 [invoice cited above]; on loan to the Art Institute by 1915; bequeathed to the Art Institute, 1933.

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