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Master of the Aachen Altarpiece, The Crucifixion Altarpiece

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The Crucifixion Altarpiece


This altarpiece was commissioned by the family of Hermann Rinck, who was burgomaster (or mayor) of Cologne three times in the 1480s, after his death in around 1496. It stood on the altar of their family chapel in the church of Saint Columba in the city.

The altarpiece is in the form of a triptych (a painting made up of three panels). Its two side panels – or shutters – are in the Walker Art Gallery, Liverpool. The altarpiece was dismantled and the panels separated some time between 1810 and 1820. The central panel, which is in the National Gallery’s collection, shows Christ’s crucifixion. The shutters show the episodes leading up to the Crucifixion and those that followed it.

When the altarpiece was cleaned in 1963, overpaint on the reverse of the shutters was removed, revealing paintings of Rinck and his wife with three of their sons.