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The Assumption of the Virgin, with the Nativity, the Resurrection, the Adoration of the Magi, the Ascension of Christ, Saint Mark and an Angel, and Saint Luke and an Ox

Joachim Patinir, Netherlandish (active Antwerp), c. 1485 - 1524

Made in Netherlands (historical name, 15th-16th century), Europe

c. 1510-1518

Oil on panel

24 1/2 × 23 1/8 inches (62.2 × 58.7 cm)

Curatorial Department:
European Painting

* Gallery 317, European Art 1100-1500, third floor

Accession Number:
Cat. 378

Credit Line:
John G. Johnson Collection, 1917

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The apostles cluster around the Virgin Mary's empty tomb in the midst of a vast landscape, in which a river flows past a harbor town to the wider sea beyond. The Virgin, already in Heaven, has dropped her belt to Saint Thomas, who hastens to tell the others of the miracle. Smaller scenes from the life of Christ fill the rondels to the right and left.

The coat of arms in the lower right corner indicates that an Augsburg merchant, Lucas Rem, commissioned the painting.

Additional information:
  • PublicationPhiladelphia Museum of Art: Handbook of the Collections

    The unusual format of this painting, which consists of a large central panel surmounted by two roundels, was perhaps specified by Lucas Rem, a wealthy Augsburg merchant whose coat of arms appears at the lower right. Rem probably requested the subject as well, since the Assumption of the Virgin was rarely depicted in Flemish painting of the period. Joachim Patinir has illustrated the moment after the Apostles have discovered the Virgin's empty tomb, unaware that she has risen to heaven. Only Thomas, the dark-bearded Apostle to the left, knew of her Assumption, since she had dropped her belt to him as she rose. In Patinir's painting, Thomas rushes up to the other Apostles, Mary's belt and rosary in hand, to share the good news. The vast and beautifully painted panoramic countryside within which the events occur was the hallmark of Patinir's fame, and also heralded the shift toward Mannerist inversion of subject matter in sixteenth-century Antwerp, as narrative events were reduced in scale in relation to the surrounding landscape. Katherine Crawford Luber, from Philadelphia Museum of Art: Handbook of the Collections (1995), p. 168.

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