Of the total of 82 paintings owned by Nicolaas Rockox, 25 had religious subjects. Two of these, both of which appear in the gallery painting by Frans Francken II and are also listed in the inventory of 1640, are by Quentin Massys. A friend of Erasmus of Rotterdam, Petrus Aegidius and Thomas More, this artist was conversant with the humanist world of ideas.
The mingling of devout faith with humanist ideas that was occurring in circles around Massys at the beginning of the 16th century still possessed great attraction for lovers of art in the 17th century.
The diptych exhibited here is one of the artist’s early works and displays the influence of Jan van Eyck (c. 1390–1441), as is evident from comparison of these figures with those in the Adoration of the Lamb of God (the Ghent Altarpiece) in the cathedral of St Bavon in Ghent.
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Quentin Massys
The Virgin at Prayer, c. 1505
Oil on wood
height 40,9 cm, width 30,6 cm
Koninklijk Museum voor Schone Kunsten, Antwerpen,, Inv.-No. 241
Further works on display
Portrait of a Canon, before 1523
Christus Salvator Mundi, c. 1505
Related themes
Samson and Delilah. A Rubens painting returns
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