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Altar "Seven Sacraments" - Rogier van der Weyden. 223 x 200 cm
Artists often chose as a plot for their paintings one of the Church Sacraments that accompany a person all his life from birth to death, granting them the grace of God. And only Rogier van der Weyden painted the altar for the first time, on which all the Sacred Activities are brought together.
It is believed that his customer was the bishop of Tournai, Jean Chevro, whom the master portrays as a clergyman in the scene of anointing.
Before us is a magnificent Gothic cathedral with high windows through which daylight pours. In the central part of the triptych, a simple wooden cross rises under the arches of the temple, the crucified Jesus Christ rises above all, because it was he who established the Sacraments.
This is the most tragic scene of the altar. John in red robes carefully picks up the settling Virgin, who lost consciousness from grief. Mary Magdalene, kneeling next to the cross, nervously clasps her hands. Her sad face shines with faith and frantic hope. The deep sorrow on the face of Salome, which gently holds the hand of the Virgin. Next to them on their knees, turning away to the side, Saint Mary the Myrrh-bearing woman wipes her tears.
And life goes on around. Behind them is the sacrament of communion, people offer prayers, a young family walking through the cathedral looks around with curiosity.
On the left and right wings, in order, there are images of other priests, above each of which an angel soars, dressed in clothes of the corresponding color.
On the left, in the foreground, the very first thing in a person’s life - baptism, behind him we see anointing, and even further - confession.
The right wing begins with the ordination to the dignity, depicted in the depths, before this scene there is a wedding, and in the foreground - the unification.
The artist intentionally does not separate the sacraments from each other - for God has no secrets. The master very accurately conveys the richness of emotions and genuine feelings on his faces, he managed to capture the movement of people, which gives reality and dynamism to his picture.
The white and gray walls of the cathedral combine juicy colors, so beloved by the artist - various shades of fiery red, scarlet, yellow, olive, deep bright blue. The snow-white clothes of the priests and the hats of the ladies attract attention.
The triptych is framed by frames painted in gold, on which are the coats of arms of the city of Tournai and, presumably, Jean Chevron.
This altar can be viewed endlessly, peering at the faces of people in the cathedral, admiring the many carefully written details. A curious touch - on the wings there is an image of two dogs.
Filled with deep symbolic meaning, the picture reminds us of the meaning of life and its transience.