Courtauld: Medieval and Renaissance Art

When in London last November, I visited the Courtauld Gallery (the ‘finest small museum in the world’, as they claim); I managed to know nothing about them before, and got there just by chance, we had a workshop in the same building (the famous Somerset House on the London’s Strand). I had an hour or so in the morning, and the museum was nearly empty when I came, I met one or two visitors in the rooms.

Those were indeed room, not even halls, and the collection is quite small, but extremely good.

I will list below just a few works I found most interesting (which, frankly speaking, all of them).

This portrait is attributed to Rogier van der Weyden (or his workshop); it is also believed that depicted is Guillaume Fillastre, French theologian and humanist. If so, this should be posthumous portrait, since it was created around 1430s, and Guillaume Fillastre died in 1428 (and he should be much older by then, an 80-something  year old man).

The bottom register of the work:


The back side of this portrait is also painted, indicating that it was, perhaps, a part of an altar.



The work is attributed to an anonymous Master of the Guild of St.George at Malines (Mechelen), and it is a commemorative portrait  of some Jan de Mol. The script says “In the year 1498, on the last day of May, our father Jan de Mol died, a loyal friend”.)



It is the first time when I saw the diptych similar to the Hans Memling’s Nieuwenhove Diptych (could it be Memling himself?  the description is less certain, it says the Master of Bruges, and so is the description, The Virgin and Child, and a Donor (c.1495).





Large portrait of The Virgin and Child with Angels (c.1500), by Quentin Massys; I believe there a very similar  work by him, but less decorative one, in Musee des Beaux-Arts, Lyon.



As often happens, all along the fringe of her cape there is a running script (I can’t’ read it, and of course nobody bothered to describe/translate it):


Many of the pieces were even older, and from Italy. Many of them are not ‘art works’, but parts of real church interior structures (altarpieces, predellas etc).


Guido da Siena – The Coronation of the Virgin (c.1260)

The central part:


The right ‘wing’:


As often in such museums, I had a mixed feeling, of amusement and dismay; it’s wonderful to see these interesting artifacts displayed, and yet it’s horrible how mindlessly they are presented, totally decontextualized – literally torn out of their ‘natural habitats’, but also of course semantically, and pragmatically. Oh, well, an ongoing pain, and why should I start with the Courtauld, not even the worst case of them?


Ugolino di Nerio – Crucifixion with Donors (c.1320)


The guy is looking at it, to also give you the idea of the size:



Three panels,  originally a part of predella:




A wonderful altarpiece, the so called Seilern Triptych, attributed to Robert Campin – The Entombment (c.1425)


The central part (and some details):



Upper register of the left wing: an amazing gold sky:


Most likely, the patron of the work:


I was caught by how detailed is his depiction of the fence:


The second  group of visitors, a family from Germany:


The triptych on their left is Virgin and Child, with  St. John the Baptist and St. Paul (c.1490), by Antoniazzo Romano.



The work has been properly eternalized recently:


Saint Paul:


and his sandals:


Saint John the Baptist:


and his sandals:



Giovanni Baronzio – The Nativity and the Adoration of the Magi (c.1326)

The Nativity part – Christ looks adultly muscular here:


The Adoration of Magi part; there is no Black King:



Spinello Aretino – The Nativity (c.1400)




Attributed to Nicola di Maestro Antonio d’Ancona – Saint Peter (c.1480)






This triptych is described as The Virgin and Child Enthroned with Saints (West Germany, c.1375), although I don’t actually see here this scene; for me, it’s a Christ’s Life, interwoven with some of the scenes from the life of Saint Mary.

Central part, upper register (Crucifixion, with the symbols of the four Evangelists):


Central part, bottom register (Christ washing the Apostel’s feet, the Agony in the Garden, and the Resurrection):


Left wing, upper register (Annunciation):


Left wing, middle register (Adoration of the Magi):


Left wing, lower register (Сircumcision?):


Right wing, upper register (Ascension?):


Right wing, middle register (Great Commission?):


Right wing, lower register (Death of the Virgin):


Back side:


Left wing’s back side, upper register:


Left wing’s back side, lower register:


The back panels present three Franciscan saints, including Saint Francis himself, indicating that the triptych most likely belonged to the Francis order.

Right wing’s back side:




Bernardo Daddi – Crucifixion with Saints (c.1348)


Central panel, upper register:





The Saints:







Lorenzo Monaco – Two Predella Panels: The Visitation (c.1409)


The Adoration of the Magi 



Bernardo Daddi – Triptych The Virgin and Child Enthroned with Saints (c.1338)



Left wing, lower register:


The upper part of the wing is in fact creates the scene with the upper part on another panel, Annunciation:


Lower part of the right panel:




Lorenzo Monaco – The Coronation of the Virgin (c.1390)



Borghese di Piero Borghese – Three Predella Panels, with the Story of Saints Julieta and Quiricus (c.1448)






Francesco Pesellino – The Annunciation (c.1450)

In the efforts to find a mirror-like thingy over her bed here, too ^_^ ; alas.



Marco Zoppo – Saint Sebastian (c.1475)





Antonio Vivarini – The Birth of Saint Augustine (c.1440)


This picture gives an idea of the size of the latter three works:


There have been many more interesting objects in the room, but I didn’t have time, and moved on; more parts of the collection are in the following postings.

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