Historically, the provinces of northern France were the birthplace and training ground of many artists. This region was a complex patchwork of counties—Picardy, Artois, and Hainaut—that passed back and forth between the Valois dukes of Burgundy and their royal cousins and overlords, the kings of France. The wings from the carved and painted altarpiece from the charterhouse of Thuison-les-Abbeville reflect the conservative and slightly naive local style current in the workshops of Picardy at the end of the 15th century. For the many artists who migrated from this region, either to France or to the centers of the art market in Flanders and Brabant, the somewhat dry realism of the local style took on a new life. Like his compatriots Enguerrand Quarton and Nicholas Froment, Josse Lieferinxe migrated to Provence, contributing to the flowering of painting in Avignon and Marseille. The harmonious fusion of north and south is evident in his eloquent scenes from the life of Saint Sebastian. The rich contributions to international court culture by migrants from this northern border region were not limited to paintings; they also included the work of musicians like Johannes Ockeghem and Josquin des Prez and that of the poet Jean Lemaire de Belges.
Josse Lieferinxe. Panels from an Altarpiece of Saint Sebastian, Saint Anthony, and Saint Roch: Saint Sebastian Tended by Irene, Marseille, 1497/98. Philadelphia Museum of Art, John G. Johnson Collection, 1917, cat. 767.