The Cellier Altarpiece

Jean Bellegambe French

On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 601

Saint Bernard, the standing monk seen on the left interior wing of this multipaneled altarpiece, was a reformer of the Cistercian order and a fervent proponent of the cult of the Virgin Mary. In this triptych he gathers with his family around her throne. The altarpiece was commissioned by Jeanne de Boubais for the Cistercian convent where she was abbess. She appears in the central panel in the guise of Saint Bernard’s sister, Humbeline, and for this reason wears the black Benedictine habit. Painted in grisaille on the exterior of the wings is Bernard’s vision of the Virgin, who miraculously wet the saint’s lips with her milk. This scene would have been visible when the wings of the altarpiece were closed.

The Cellier Altarpiece, Jean Bellegambe (French, Douai ca. 1470–1535/36 Douai), Oil on wood

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