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Albrecht Bouts and Workshop, Saint Ambrose with Ambrosius van Engelen

Key facts
Full title Saint Ambrose with Ambrosius van Engelen
Artist Albrecht Bouts and Workshop
Artist dates born between 1451 and 1455; died 1549
Date made probably 1520
Medium and support Oil on oak
Dimensions 74.3 × 24.6 cm
Acquisition credit Bought, 1854
Inventory number NG264
Location Not on display
Collection Main Collection
Saint Ambrose with Ambrosius van Engelen
Albrecht Bouts and Workshop

Two men are crammed into this long, thin painting which was once the right wing of a triptych (a painting in three parts). In front is the donor. He wears the white habit of a Premonstratensian canon; the mitre (headdress) in front of him shows that he is a mitred abbot. Behind him is Saint Ambrose, Bishop of Milan in the fourth century.

‘Moderation in all things’ is written on the back of the panel in Latin – a popular motto, and one used by at least two Premonstratensian abbots. Ambrose, however, was not a common name in the Netherlands, nor was he a widely venerated saint. There can be little doubt that the donor is Ambrosius van Engelen, Abbot of Park, just south of Leuven.

The panel seems to be the work of more than one artist: the faces are different in both style and quality, and this cannot be fully explained by the donor’s face being very damaged and much restored. The saint’s face is close to the type often used by Albrecht Bouts.

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