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Donor: Left Hand Shutter
Workshop of Pieter Coecke van Aalst
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A man kneels at a prayer desk in a landscape. In the background Christ carries the Cross, helped by Simon of Cyrene; they are surrounded by soldiers and tormentors. We aren‘t sure who the patron is, but the coat of arms on the desk might be those of the Bollis family of Sint-Truiden. His clothes are in the style of the 1520s, and the whitish letters ’WB' above his helm are probably his initials. He might be Willem Bollis, who was in 1519 a member of the court of the Prince-Bishop of Liège at Sint-Truiden.

This is the left wing of a triptych (a painting in three parts); the man’s wife appears on the right-hand wing. 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 – but its artist was much less gifted than them.

Key facts
Artist Workshop of Pieter Coecke van Aalst
Artist dates 1502 - 1550
Full title Donor: Left Hand Shutter
Series The Crucifixion Triptych
Date made probably 1527-30
Medium and support Oil on canvas, transferred from oak
Dimensions 75.5 × 21.6 cm
Acquisition credit Bequeathed by Mrs Joseph H. Green, 1880
Inventory number NG1088.2
Location in Gallery Not on display
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The Crucifixion Triptych

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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.

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