Kneeling Female Donor with St. Anne

Download image: 
Hans Memling
Oil on panel.
panel: 32 7/8 x 10 5/8 inches (835 x 270 mm); framed: 36 5/8 x 14 3/4 inches (930 x 365 mm)
Purchased by Pierpont Morgan, 1907.

Among Memling's finest early works in this country, these two panels (AZ012.1-2) once formed the inner wings of a triptych. They depict relatives, along with their patron saints, of Jan Crabbe, the fifteenth-century abbot who commissioned the altarpiece. At left, St. Anne stands behind an older, kneeling woman, holding a book in her hands, who is probably Crabbe's mother, Anna. At right, St. William of Maleval appears in armor behind a young man, probably the abbot's half brother, wearing a clerical garb over his knightly armor. The central panel of the triptych, a Crucifixion, is in the Museo Civico, Vicenza, Italy, and the two exterior wing panels are in the Groeningemuseum, Bruges.
In a single image that extends across all three panels--the wings at the Morgan and the central panel now in the Museo Civico, Vicenza--this altarpiece combines a view of the Crucifixion (including the Virgin Mary, St. John the Evangelist, and St. Mary Magdalene to the left of the cross) with images of the donor, his family, and their patron saints. The patron of the work, Jan Crabbe, kneels to the right of the cross, presented by his eponymous saint, John the Baptist, and by Bernard of Clairvaux, the founder of the Cistercian order. Anna Willemzoon, Crabbe's mother, is at left, with St. Anne, while Willem de Winter, Crabbe's much younger half-brother, is at right, presented by St. William. The broad landscape with its gathering storm clouds and the precise details of the plants, clothing, and distant buildings all attest to Memling's technical abilities. What is most extraordinary about the painting, however, is Memling's humanity: perhaps above all in the frank depiction of old age in the faces of St. Bernard and Anna Willemzoon. -- Exhibition Label, from "Hans Memling: Portraiture, Piety, and a Reunited Altarpiece"

Probably commissioned by Jan Crabbe, abbot of Ter Duinen Abbey in Koksijde; S. Rogers, London (1856); Vernon Smyth (Lord Lyveden), London (1857); Rodolphe Kann, Paris (1906); sale, London, Kann collection; Duveen, London (1907); from whom purchased by J. Pierpont Morgan, 6 June 1907; by descent to J.P. Morgan, Jr.