de jonckheere old masters

Dirk Bouts

(Entourage of)Christ in profile

Panel: 17,5 x 11,5 cm


Portraits of Christ were a very widespread subject in 15th and 16th century painting as they were mass produced for private worship. This example of Christ in profile belongs to this category and has the characteristic of drawing inspiration from the imperial portrayals from the beginning of the Christian era, i.e. in profile. North of the Alps, these paintings were often associated, in the form of a diptych, with the portrait of Our Lady of Sorrows.

In terms of appearance, these portraits resemble the description given by Publius Lentulus, governor of Judea, in a letter to the Roman Senate. This apocryphal text, which was widely distributed in the Middle Ages, served as a model for artists. The portrait of Christ by Jan van Eyck later served as a model for many 15th century Flemish painters. It was also a source of inspiration for Dirk Bouts' Holy Face kept in Rotterdam.

In this panel, which a dendrochronology analysis dates to the end of the 15th and even the beginning of the 16th century, Christ appears as a man, with a high forehead and a prognathous jaw, dressed in a simple but elegant bluish-green garment with gold edging. His presence is strengthened by his portrayal in strict profile, with his face contrasting with the neutral background. An image of devotion par excellence, this Christ in profile stands out owing to the singularity of its style and the beauty of its execution.

Provenance :
Private collection, Belgium.