Triptych of the Sacraments, Van der Weyden

Triptych of the Sacraments, Van der Weyden
Triptych of the Sacraments, Van der Weyden

The Triptych of the Seven Sacraments is one of the most pious works made by the Flemish artist, Roger Van der Weyden in she the artist takes up an iconographic model used by his contemporary the artist Jan Van Eyck in which the religious scene takes place inside a Christian temple; in this way the role of the Church as the house of God is revalued. Flemish painting is still strongly linked to the religious theme of medieval art, however the artists will gradually develop more realistic and naturalistic compositions, in this sense the use of the oil technique was essential in the works of the Flemish primitives who allowed them to achieve more and more realistic effects.


Without a doubt, Roger Van der Weyden (1399 or 1400 – 1464) is one of the most prominent figures of this era. The Flemish artist was trained together with one of the great masters of the time, Robert Campin, and achieved numerous successes during his lifetime. It seems that Van der Weyden was a quite prolific artist, however, many of the works that are claimed to be his today are only attributions due to the scant information we have about him.

In this case we find ourselves before a triptych made in oil on board in the shape of an inverted T; the central table is much larger than the lateral ones so that the triptychIt could not be closed, as is the case with most of this type of work, which also meant that the artist could not decorate the back of the side panels as was customary. The work must have been made around the year 1445 or 1450, it seems that the triptych responds to a commission made to the artist by the Bishop of Tournai who appears in the left panel administering the confession and whose coats of arms can be seen in the corners of the central panel.

In the central panel the Flemish painter presents a crucifixion, it is a typical scene Jesus Christ who died on the cross occupies the upper space while in the lower one Mary fainted by pain is supported by Saint John and the holy women they cry uncontrollably. The scheme presented here is the origin of what we will later find in some of Van der Weyden's most outstanding works such as the Descent from the Prado, in both the natural pain of the Mother for the loss of her Son merges with divinity. of a God who sacrifices himself for his faithful.

Completing the central panel appears the sacrament of communion in the Eucharist while in the lateral panels the rest of the sacraments are distributed three by three: In the panel on the right the priestly orders, extreme unction and marriage and on the left baptism, confession and confirmation. However, it seems that only the central panel and the composition of the pictorial ensemble would be the work of Van der Weyden, while the lateral ones would beexecuted by his workshop.

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