Flemish painter 16th century - inv. 3500

Flemish painter of 16th century

Presentation of Christ in the Temple
12,2 x 9 cm
1973 donation Margherita Visconti Venosta
Inv. 3500

not on display

This elegant miniature shows the Presentation of Christ in the Temple. Baby Jesus is presented in the temple of Jerusalem, an act which consecrated the firstborn to the Lord. In the foreground, Mary hands the Child to the High Priest; next to her, Joseph holds a dove between his hands, the symbol of purification. The woman with the white headdress, in the centre of the composition and in front of a column with a Corinthian capital, is probably the elderly prophet Anna. The candle held by one of the onlookers might instead refer to Candlemas (the festival of Purification which was celebrated with a procession of blessed candles).

The composition draws on prototypes taken up and popularised in the 1520s in the workshops of Bruges and Ghent by artists such as Simon Bening (Ghent, 1483-84 – Bruges, 1561). The Presentation in the Temple that appears on a sheet with Scenes from the Life of Mary and the Infancy of Christ by Bening and his workshop, in the Walters Art Gallery in Baltimore, reveals close affinities with the Poldi Pezzoli panel in the distribution of the figures, in the faces and in the architectural elements. Probably Bening also influenced the style of this miniature in the descriptive way of portraying the faces and in the close concatenation of the figures.