Young Man Holding a Book

Artist: Master of the View of Sainte Gudule (Netherlandish, active ca. 1485)

Date: ca. 1480

Medium: Oil on wood

Dimensions: Overall, with arched top, 8 1/4 x 5 1/8 in. (21 x 13 cm); painted surface 8 1/8 x 5 in. (20.6 x 12.6 cm)

Classification: Paintings

Credit Line: Bequest of Mary Stillman Harkness, 1950

Accession Number: 50.145.27


The heart-shaped book this sitter holds is probably a prayer book; he is depicted before a view of the church of Sainte Gudule in Brussels, where a mass is performed by a priest in the background. The man’s identity is unknown, but he may have been a member of a confraternity or guild with a particular devotion to Saint Augustine, whose symbolic attribute was a heart surmounted by a flame. It is possible this formed the right wing of a devotional diptych; as such, the shape of the book would echo the open form of two joined, arch-shaped panels.