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The Holy Family

by Jan Cornelisz. Vermeyen, oil on canvas, ca. 1530, Frans Hals Museum, Haarlem (on long term loan from the Instituut Collectie Nederland). Treatment: 01/2006-10/2006
Two paintings by J.C. Vermeyen were  restored and subjected to an intensive examination at the Frans Hals Museum. Abbie treated The Holy Family, which is owned by the Instituut Collectie Nederland, on long term loan to the Frans Hals Museum. For some time it had been thought that these two paintings once formed a pair or even a diptych, as suggested by the matching composition. For instance, the angel in the top right corner of the portrait of Cardinal Erard de la Marck points to the Holy Family in the other painting, and both panels are illuminated from the same source in the middle. In addition the green drapery in The Holy Family is continued in the background of the Cardinal’s portrait.  A visual analysis and a technical study of the paintings produced new arguments to support the hypothesis that the two currently separated panels once formed a pair. They were likely pendant portraits that hung next to each other on a wall - possibly above the Cardinal's funerary monument - rather than folding like a conventional diptych.

In 2006, the paintings appeared in the exhibition:

Prayers and Portraits: Unfolding the Netherlandish Diptych, at the National Gallery in Washington and at the Museum voor Schone Kunst, Antwerp. Abbie Vandivere made a presentation at the Diptych Symposium in Antwerp in 04/2007.
The art historical and technical research into these two paintings, as well as the practical aspects of the restoration were the subject of two smaller exhibitions: Twee schilderijen: één tweeluik (Two paintings: one diptych) at the Frans Hals Museum, Haarlem: 28/09/07 - 06/01/08, and at the Bonnefanten Museum, Maastricht: 27/01/08 - 30/05/2008.

Photographs © From the Ground Up, Frans Hals Museum. The portrait of the Cardinal was treated by Mireille te Marvelde.

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