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Workshop of Pieter Coecke van Aalst, Donatrix: Right Hand Shutter

Key facts
Full title Donatrix: Right Hand Shutter
Artist Workshop of Pieter Coecke van Aalst
Artist dates 1502 - 1550
Series The Crucifixion Triptych
Date made probably 1527-30
Medium and support Oil on canvas, transferred from oak
Dimensions 76.2 × 43.2 cm
Acquisition credit Bequeathed by Mrs Joseph H. Green, 1880
Inventory number NG1088.3
Location Not on display
Collection Main Collection
Previous owners
Donatrix: Right Hand Shutter
Workshop of Pieter Coecke van Aalst

A woman kneels at prayer desk. We don't know who she is; she was once identified by a coat of arms – of which little now remains – on the side of her prayer desk. The painting is on the front of the right wing of a triptych (a painting in three parts). Her husband, possibly a member of the Bollis family of Sint-Truiden, faces her from the left wing.

In the landscape behind her, Christ rises into the sky. Below him, in a rocky landscape, are three of the soldiers who guarded his tomb: two recoil in terror, while the third sleeps. This is the Resurrection, a continuation of the narrative from the Crucifixion in the central panel.

The style of the triptych links it with the work of Bernaert van Orley and his pupil Pieter Coecke van Aalst – both also included secondary narratives in the backgrounds of their paintings – though its artist was much less gifted than them.

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The Crucifixion Triptych


Two donors – husband and wife – kneel in the wings of this triptych (a painting in three parts) and gaze at the Crucifixion in the central panel. The Annunciation – the moment the Virgin Mary was told she would bear a child – was originally painted in shades of grey on the outside of the wings, but the fronts and backs are now physically separate.

The style of the painting associates it with the work of Bernaert van Orley and especially his pupil, Pieter Coecke van Aalst. Coecke seems to have run a large workshop and several artists of limited ability seem to have been involved in this painting. This image of the Crucifixion was evidently a popular composition: several versions of it survive.