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Workshop of Pieter Coecke van Aalst, 'The Archangel Gabriel: Reverse of Left Hand Shutter', probably 1527-30

Key facts
Full title The Archangel Gabriel: Reverse of Left 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 oak
Dimensions 76.2 × 21.8 cm
Acquisition credit Bequeathed by Mrs Joseph H. Green, 1880
Inventory number NG1088.4
Location Not on display
Collection Main Collection
Previous owners
The Archangel Gabriel: Reverse of Left Hand Shutter
Workshop of Pieter Coecke van Aalst

The Archangel Gabriel, evidently arriving at speed, raises his hand to gesture to the Virgin Mary, the end of whose cloak can be seen trailing across the floor at the bottom of this picture.

This was on the outside of the left wing of an altarpiece possibly made for a member of the Bollis family of Sint-Truiden. It is painted in grisaille (in shades of black, white and grey) and would have been visible when the altarpiece was closed. Together, both wings showed the Annunciation, the moment Gabriel told Mary she would bear a child.

The whole triptych (painting in three parts) was probably produced in the workshop of Pieter Coecke van Aalst. It bears some resemblance to an Annunciation painted in Coecke’s workshop for Willem van Brussel, Abbot of St Trudo, between 1516 and 1532.

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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.