Netherlandish (Antwerp Mannerist) Painter, first quarter of 16th century
Oil on wood; Overall, with shaped top and engaged frame: central panel 47 x 33 3/4 in. (119.4 x 85.7 cm); left wing 47 x 16 7/8 in. (119.4 x 42.9 cm); right wing 47 1/8 x 17 in. (119.7 x 43.2 cm)
Gift of J. Pierpont Morgan, 1917 (17.190.18ac)
This complete and well-preserved altarpiece, the product of collaboration among anonymous artists working in Antwerp at the beginning of the sixteenth century, shows Adam and Eve on the exterior panels, two Old Testament scenes on the interior side panels, and the Last Supper on the central panel. Both of the interior side panels are traditional prefigurations of the Last Supper: the left wing depicts the king and high priest Melchizedek outside the gates of Salem giving bread and wine to the patriarch Abraham; the right wing represents Moses and the Israelites in the desert fed by manna falling from heaven. At least three artists collaborated on this altarpiece. One painted the nude Adam and Eve based on Albrecht Dürer's 1504 engraving of the subject, another produced the generalized Mannerist figures on the interior, and a third may have contributed the individualized figure in the left foreground of the central panel. This type of division of labor became typical of busy Antwerp workshops in the 1520s. The Last Supper was one of the most popular subjects among the Antwerp Mannerists.