Memling's Triptych of Jan Crabbe reunited at The Morgan

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Hans Memling (Flemish, ca. 1440–1494), The Triptych of Jan Crabbe, ca. 1467-70. ©Pinacoteca Civica di Palazzo Chiericati, Vicenza. Left and right panels:  ©The Morgan Library & Museum, Photography by Graham S. Haber

NEW YORK- Hans Memling’s Triptych of Jan Crabbe will be reunited in all its component for the first time for an exhibition taking place at The Morgan Library & Museum.
Completed around 1470 in Bruges, the triptych was dismantled centuries ago and the parts were scattered. The inner wings owned by the Morgan, will be displayed alongside other elements of the famous triptych: the central panel from the Musei Civici in Vicenza, Italy, and the outer wings from the Groeningemuseum in Bruges, Belgium.
The complete altarpiece was originally commissioned by Jan Crabbe, Abbot of the Cistercian monastery of Ten Duinen, near Bruges, Belgium.
Technical study of the Jan Crabbe panels has revealed fascinating aspects of the altarpiece’s evolution. With infrared imaging (IRR), Memling’s graphic style can be seen in the lively underdrawings that lie beneath the layers of paint. Differences between the underdrawings and painting show that Memling made changes to the initial composition. X-radiographs show that he also made changes during the actual painting process
The portraits in the two wing panels that belong to the Morgan are as crisp as if the brush had just been lifted from them. By contrast, certain faces in the large Crucifixion panel look indistinct, as if they’d been worn down by some light but persistent pressure. That panel also seems to have been technically disadvantaged from the start. It’s made from three joined oak planks, and join lines are visible in the paint surface, suggesting that whoever laid down the initial, levelling ground did so incompletely or with an inferior primer.
This exhibition will be on view to January 8, 2017. For more information please visit: