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Workshop of Quinten Massys, Christ

Key facts
Full title Christ
Artist Workshop of Quinten Massys
Artist dates 1465/6 - 1530
Group Diptych: Christ and the Virgin
Date made about 1510-25
Medium and support Oil on oak
Dimensions 58.2 × 33.2 cm
Acquisition credit Bought, 1857
Inventory number NG295.1
Location Not on display
Collection Main Collection
Workshop of Quinten Massys

Christ gazes directly out at us from this small panel. Raising his right hand in blessing, he holds in his left hand a glass or crystal orb, decorated with gold bands set with pearls. On top of the orb is a jewelled gold cross and Christ wears a brooch set with precious stones.

This is Christ as Salvator Mundi (‘Saviour of the World’); the praying Virgin in the other panel is interceding with him on behalf of sinful humanity. Close observation reveals the fronts of three gabled houses reflected in the orb. This panel would probably have been used for private meditation, and the artist is cleverly suggesting the earthly realm of the Renaissance viewer.

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Diptych: Christ and the Virgin


This composition of Christ as the Salvator Mundi (‘Saviour of the World’) adored by his mother, the Virgin Mary, was very popular in the early sixteenth century. These are workshop copies of originals painted by Quinten Massys towards the beginning of his career. His workshop then continued to produce further versions over a long period.

These panels were painted by Massys‘ two main associates, one working on each; some less important areas were delegated to assistants, who perhaps worked on both. Although the panels have always been regarded as a diptych (a painting made of two parts) they were not actually made to go together. The Virgin probably came from the stock in Massys’ workshop and was cut down to be paired with the painting of Christ.