Photo © President and Fellows of Harvard College
Gallery Text

Diptychs played an important devotional role in the Netherlands. The panels hinged together here are from two different workshops. The earlier one, showing the Virgin and Child (1906.6.A)., is based directly on a prototype by Rogier van der Weyden. Soon after its creation, it was paired with an image of a donor (1906.6.B) — identified by an epitaph on the reverse as Joos van der Burch, a court official — who is accompanied by Saint Simon of Jerusalem. A prayer written on a banderole rises from his clasped hands toward a window, through which we see the Crucifixion set in a landscape. Technical evidence suggests that the image was originally commissioned by Joos’s son, Simon van der Burch, who had himself portrayed alongside his patron saint. Simon’s likeness was later painted over with that of his father, perhaps as a demonstration of filial piety.

Identification and Creation
Object Number
Follower of Gerard David, Netherlandish (Oudewater c. 1460 - 1523 Bruges)
Joos van der Burch and Saint Simon of Jerusalem
Work Type
c. 1493
Creation Place: Europe, Netherlands, Bruges
Persistent Link
Level 2, Room 2500, European Art, 13th–16th century, Art and Image in Europe
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Physical Descriptions
Oil on oak panel
image: 55 x 34 cm (21 5/8 x 13 3/8 in.)
panel: 56.2 x 35.7 cm (22 1/8 x 14 1/16 in.)
frame: 66.2 x 44.4 x 7.2 cm (26 1/16 x 17 1/2 x 2 13/16 in.)
frame (hinged with 1906.6.A): 66.2 x 88.8 x 7.2 cm (26 1/16 x 34 15/16 x 2 13/16 in.)
Inscriptions and Marks
  • inscription: on back of panel; [twelve lines of text in old Dutch, with a family crest and a monogram, possibly JB]: Hier voren ligghe begrave joos vade / burch, wile raed konycx vade romsche / rijcke en zijns zoons ph[iluppu?]s erdshertogh / va oostrijcke, hertoghe va bourgne grave / va vlandere. etc. en ghecmmteerd ont / fanghere va veurnabocht XXIX iare / die starf de vierde dach va sporkele / int iare m . cccc . zesedetneghetich. / JK [coat of arms] JK / en ioncvrouwe katheline vader / mesch zijn eerst wijf die starf de / xx dach va maye int iaer . M . CCC / zesentsevetich bid over de zielen
George W. Harris, bequest; to Harvard College, 1906
Acquisition and Rights
Credit Line
Harvard Art Museums/Fogg Museum, Bequest of George W. Harris in memory of John A. Harris (to Harvard College)
Accession Year
Object Number
European and American Art
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Publication History

Reports of Art Museums and Societies, American Art Annual, ed. Florence N. Levy (1907-1908), Vol. VI, p. 143

Style and Technique: Their Interrelation in Western European Painting, exh. cat., Fogg Art Museum (Cambridge, MA, 1936), no. 20, pp. 29-30, pl. VIII

Charles Werner Haxthausen, The Busch-Reisinger Museum, Harvard University, Abbeville Press (New York, NY, 1980), p. 55, repr.

Kristin A. Mortimer and William G. Klingelhofer, Harvard University Art Museums: A Guide to the Collections, Harvard University Art Museums and Abbeville Press (Cambridge and New York, 1986), no. 362, p. 305, repr.

Edgar Peters Bowron, European Paintings Before 1900 in the Fogg Art Museum: A Summary Catalogue including Paintings in the Busch-Reisinger Museum, Harvard University Art Museums (Cambridge, MA, 1990), pp. 104, 169, repr. b/w cat. no. 97

Andrea Pearson, "Personal Worship, Gender, and the Devotional Portrait Diptych", The Sixteenth Century Journal (spring 2000), vol. XXXI, no. 1, pp. 99-122, p. 119, repr.

Peter Klein, "Dendrochronological Analyses of Netherlandish Paintings", Recent Developments in the Technical Examination of Early Netherlandish Painting, ed. Molly Faries, Harvard University Art Museums (Cambridge MA, 2003), pp. 65-81, p. 80, in table 5

Ron Spronk, "Standing on the Shoulders of Giants: The Early Years of Conservation and Technical Examination of Netherlandish Paintings of the Fogg Art Museum", Recent Developments in the Technical Examination of Early Netherlandish Painting, ed. Molly Faries, Harvard University Art Museums (Cambridge, MA, 2003), pp. 39-56, p. 40; repr. p. 41 as fig. 3

Molly Faries, ed., Recent Developments in the Technical Examination of Early Netherlandish Painting: Methodology, Limitations and Perspectives, Harvard University Art Museums (Cambridge, MA, 2003), p. 150, in glossary; detail repr. in color as pl. 28, p. 209

Dr. Maryan W. Ainsworth, "'À la façon grèce': The Encounter of Northern Renaissance Artists wtih Byzantine Icons", Byzantium: Faith and Power (1261-1557), ed. Helen Evans, Metropolitan Museum of Art / Yale University Press (New York, NY / New Haven, CT, and London, 2004), pp. 545-555, p. 554, repr. as fig. 17.15

Andrea Pearson, Envisioning Gender in Burgundian Devotional Art, 1350-1530, Ashgate Publishing (Hampshire, England, 2005), p. 78, repr. in b/w p. 79; checklist no. 12, p. 196

John Oliver Hand and Ron Spronk, ed., Essays in Context: Unfolding the Netherlandish Diptych, Harvard University Art Museums/Yale University Press (Cambridge, MA, 2006), pp. 24, 68, p. 58 note 19, p. 248 cat. no. 40

John Oliver Hand, Catherine A. Metzger, and Ron Spronk, Prayers and Portraits: Unfolding the Netherlandish Diptych, exh. cat., Yale University Press (New Haven, CT, and London, 2006), p. 22; no. 40, pp. 264-271, repr. in color with verso, details, IR,and cross-sections

Pieter Donche, "Joos van der Burch (+ 1497) en de raadsels rond zijn diptiek", Vlaamse Stam, Familiekunde Vlaanderen (Antwerp, January 2008), vol. 44, no. 1, pp. 61-110, repr. as fig. 1 on p. 62

Douglas Brine, Pious Memories: The Wall-Mounted Memorial in the Burgundian Netherlands, Brill Academic Publishers (Boston) (Boston, 2015), repr. as fig. 22 p. 51

Exhibition History

Style and Technique: Their Interrelation in Western European Painting, Fogg Art Museum, Cambridge, 06/01/1936 - 12/31/1936

Northern European Art from 1450 to 1550, Harvard University Art Museums, Cambridge, 08/13/1994 - 02/05/1995

Prayers & Portraits: Unfolding the Netherlandish Diptych, National Gallery of Art, Washington, 11/12/2006 - 02/04/2007; Koninklijk Museum voor Schone Kunsten, Antwerp, 03/03/2007 - 05/27/2007

Re-View: S422-423 Western Art of the Middle Ages & Renaissance, Harvard Art Museums/Arthur M. Sackler Museum, Cambridge, 08/16/2008 - 06/18/2011

32Q: 2500 Renaissance, Harvard Art Museums, Cambridge, 11/16/2014 - 01/01/2050

Subjects and Contexts

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