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Man, Myth, and Sensual Pleasures: Jan Gossart's Renaissance

October 6, 2010–January 17, 2011

The Passion of Christ

Although a few drawings on view in the exhibition show various projects for altarpieces, there are no remaining large-scale intact triptychs by Gossart. The Middelburg Altarpiece, which was so highly praised by Albrecht Dürer on his trip to the Netherlands in 1520–21, was destroyed by fire in 1568. Recent study of documentary and technical evidence for The Salamanca Triptych reveals that the wings and centerpiece were united only in the seventeenth century. It seems that Gossart undertook various commissions, including magnificent works made for the highest level of patron, as well as more modest pieces intended for private devotional practice. All share the artist's ongoing attempts to convey the meaning of religious themes—especially the Passion of Christ—through the expressiveness of his figures. He achieved this aim through a decidedly innovative sculptural approach that involved envisioning his figures in the round. As several examples in exhibition show, antique models and contemporary Italian art based on them continued to provide inspiration for Gossart's boldly innovative concepts.