Portrait of a Carthusian

Artist: Petrus Christus (Netherlandish, Baarle-Hertog (Baerle-Duc), active by 1444–died 1475/76 Bruges)

Date: 1446

Medium: Oil on wood

Dimensions: Overall 11 1/2 x 8 1/2 in. (29.2 x 21.6 cm); painted surface 11 1/2 x 7 3/8 in. (29.2 x 18.7 cm)

Classification: Paintings

Credit Line: The Jules Bache Collection, 1949

Accession Number: 49.7.19


Petrus Christus was the leading painter of Bruges in the years following the death of Jan van Eyck in 1441. In this portrait of striking verisimilitude, the artist moves beyond the flat neutral backgrounds of portraits by his predecessor. Instead, Christus places his sitter in the corner of a warmly illuminated room. To enhance the illusion, a fly rests momentarily upon a fictive frame. The "carved" inscription below functions as a signature and a declaration; the sitter looks directly at the viewer and boldly states, "Petrus Christus made me in the year 1446."