Artist: Gerard David (Netherlandish, Oudewater ca. 1455–1523 Bruges)
Date: ca. 1485–90
Medium: Oil on wood
Dimensions: Left wing, overall 18 x 6 5/8 in. (45.7 x 16.8 cm), original painted surface 17 5/8 x 5 7/8 in. (44.8 x 14.9 cm); right wing, overall 17 7/8 x 6 1/2 in. (45.4 x 16.5 cm), original painted surface 17 5/8 x 5 3/4 in. (44.8 x 14.6 cm)
Credit Line: The Friedsam Collection, Bequest of Michael Friedsam, 1931
Accession Number: 32.100.40bc
While John the Baptist was frequently represented in Netherlandish art, his pairing with Saint Francis is rare in the North. The latter was venerated especially in southern Europe, suggesting that these paintings could have been commissioned by an Italian merchant in Bruges. Originally the wings of a triptych, they might have flanked a Crucifixion or a Lamentation, for they both share the theme of Christ’s sacrifice: Saint John points to the Lamb of God, a familiar metaphor for Christ as the redeemer of mankind, and Saint Francis miraculously receives the stigmata at a distance from his monastery on Mount Alverna.