The Le Cellier Altarpiece

Artist: Jean Bellegambe (French, Douai ca. 1470–1535/36 Douai)

Date: 1509

Medium: Oil on wood

Dimensions: Shaped top: central panel 40 x 24 in. (101.6 x 61 cm); left wing 37 3/4 x 10 in. (95.9 x 25.4 cm); right wing 37 1/2 x 9 1/2 in. (95.3 x 24.1 cm)

Classification: Paintings

Credit Line: The Friedsam Collection, Bequest of Michael Friedsam, 1931

Accession Number: 32.100.102


Saint Bernard, the standing monk seen on the left interior wing, was a reformer of the Cistercian order and a fervent proponent of the cult of Mary. In this triptych he gathers with his family around the throne of the Virgin. The altarpiece was commissioned by Jeanne de Boubais, abbess of the Cistercian convent of Flines, who 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 is Bernard's vision of the Virgin, who miraculously wet the saint's lips with her milk.