Skip to main content
The Donne Triptych
Hans Memling
/

This is the central panel of a small triptych (a painting in three parts), probably commissioned by Sir John Donne in the late 1470s. In it, he kneels before the Virgin and Christ Child, facing his wife Elizabeth and one of their daughters. They are accompanied by their patron saints Catherine and Barbara, and Saints John the Baptist and John the Evangelist appear on the side panels (also in the National Gallery’s collection).

Sir John’s nose was enlarged during the course of painting, and rapid, hatched brushstrokes indicate shadows and stubble. His head seems to have been painted rapidly and from life. Lady Donne initially looked very like the youthful Saint Barbara but she was made – presumably – more realistic in the course of painting, with thinner lips and a sharper nose. It seems that Memling first painted an idealised head and changed it either when he met Lady Donne or was supplied with better information by her husband.

Key facts
Artist Hans Memling
Artist dates active 1465; died 1494
Full title The Virgin and Child with Saints and Donors (The Donne Triptych)
Group The Donne Triptych
Date made about 1478
Medium and support Oil on oak
Dimensions 71 x 70.3 cm
Acquisition credit Acquired under the terms of the Finance Act from the Duke of Devonshire's Collection, 1957
Inventory number NG6275.1
Location in Gallery Room 63
Download image
Download low-resolution image

Download an 800px wide, 72dpi copy of this image.

License this image

License and download a high resolution image for reproductions up to A3 size from the National Gallery Picture Library.

License image
Download low resolution image

This image is licensed for non-commercial use under a Creative Commons agreement.

Examples of non-commercial use are:

  • Research, private study, or for internal circulation within an educational organisation (such as a school, college or university)
  • Non-profit publications, personal websites, blogs, and social media

The image file is 800 pixels on the longest side.

As a charity, we depend upon the generosity of individuals to ensure the collection continues to engage and inspire. Help keep us free by making a donation today.

Yes, I'd like to donate
Or
Download low resolution image

You must agree to the Creative Commons terms and conditions to download this image.

Creative Commons Logo

The Donne Triptych

/

Courtier and soldier Sir John Donne kneels before the Virgin and Christ Child in the central panel of this triptych (a painting in three parts), which he commissioned, facing his wife Elizabeth and one of their daughters. With them are Saints Catherine and Barbara, two of the most popular medieval saints; the wings show Donne’s patron saints, John the Baptist and John the Evangelist. On the outside of the wings Saints Christopher and Anthony Abbot are shown as stone statues in niches.

The younger son of a Welsh soldier, Donne was a career administrator who owed his fortune to King Edward IV. He and his wife wear the King’s livery collars. The composition is a version of Memling’s famous Triptych of the Two Saints John (Memling Museum, Bruges), which he worked on in the late 1470s. Perhaps Donne saw it in Memling’s workshop and asked for something similar.

;