Medieval, Renaissance and Baroque
Crucifixion with the donor Brother Aureles of Emael, c. 1465,
Anonymous (Netherlandish, 15th Century) Oil on oak panel
This small jewel of a fifteenth century painting was executed by a student of the greatest Netherlandish artist of the second half of the 15th century, Rogier van der Weyden of Brussels. It came to Vassar from the New York Historical Society where it resided since the 1860s. It is a small devotional painting executed with extraordinary care and was commissioned by the kneeling ecclesiastic patron for his personal use.
The Open Missal, c. 1570
Ludger Tom Ring the Younger (German, 1522-1584) Oil on panel
This German painting by Ludger Tom Ring the Younger of Münster is intended to fool the eye by appearing to be an actual book whose pages are stirred by a draft of air. The open pages of the holy book reveal biblical text, a musical score, and a portion of a page illuminated with the image of the Crucifixion, its own decoration of flowers meant to fool the eye. Thus the German artist creates a visual pun or tautology based on illusion and reality.
Still Life with Fruits and Bread, 1641
Pieter Claesz III (Dutch, c1597-1660) Oil on panel
The painting is a so-called "Little Banquet" piece by the 17th-century Dutch artist from the city of Haarlem, Pieter Claesz. Initialed and dated 1641 on the pewter plate in the center, this splendid still-life of elegant tableware, crisp linen, a roasted fowl, rolls, and fresh berries is a tour de force in the rendering of believable surfaces. In fact, if you draw close to the painting and gaze at the shiny bulbous surface of the pitcher, you will see reflected in it the artist himself busy at his easel painting this very scene. Some scholars have seen a secondary symbolic message in some of the objects arranged in such still-lifes as this. The bread and wine might refer to the substances ingested ritually during the celebration of the Catholic Mass; the cracked almond and the cross-shaped watch might allude to the passage of time and the transience of human existence.