Memling, Hans (c.1430-1494)
Oil on oak panel, 69.4 × 17.2 cm
Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna
This is the outer left wing of the St. John Altarpiece.
St. John Altarpiece (c.1485-1490)
In a balanced composition, Hans Memling depicts the enthroned Madonna with an angel and a kneeling donor, flanked on the left by John the Baptist and on the right by John the Evangelist. In the architectural frame of the central picture, he added small groups of figures with the sacrifice of Isaac and the beheading of St. Catherine – the putti with fruit wreaths already show the influence of the Italian early Renaissance. Already in Archduke Leopold Wilhelm’s collection (around 1650) the outer sides of the wings of the St. John’s Altar were separated in order to be considered independent paintings. Adam and Eve were often depicted on the outside of the altar, in the narrow niches they look like sculptures that have come to life. (KHM)