The Exhumation of Saint Hubert

This picture was evidently painted for the chapel of St Hubert in the church of St Gudula, Brussels, founded in 1437. It would have been one of a series showing the saint's legend, which together made up a large altarpiece.

The body of Saint Hubert (about 656 - 727) was exhumed in 825 from St Peter's in Liège, a church he founded, and moved to the Abbey of Andagium, St-Hubert-des-Ardennes). Though long dead, his body was undecayed, proving his sainthood to the figures gathered to watch. On the left is Walcaud, Bishop of Liège. Behind him is King Louis the Pious. On the right is Adebald, Archbishop of Cologne. Behind are groups of onlookers in 15th-century dress, which may include portraits of the family who commissioned the altarpiece.

The painting does not show an accurate rendering of St Peter's, rebuilt in the 12th century. It is an imaginary structure, based on 15th-century church architecture.

Key facts

Artist dates
about 1399 - 1464
Full title
The Exhumation of Saint Hubert
Date made
late 1430s
Medium and support
Oil with egg tempera on oak
88.2 x 81.2 cm
Acquisition credit
Bought, 1868
Inventory number
Location in Gallery