This exhibition is no longer on view at the National Gallery. Please follow the links below for related online resources or visit our current exhibitions schedule.This exhibition, the first devoted to the subject, will bring together almost 36 pairs of Netherlandish panel paintings from the 15th and 16th centuries, including works from public and private collections in Europe and the United States. Unfortunately, the diptych format—essentially two hinged panels that can be opened and closed like a book—was vulnerable to alteration, even the separation and dispersal of the panels. The exhibition will reunite several paintings now owned by different institutions, such as Rogier van der Weyden's Virgin and Child from California with his portrait of Philippe de Croy from Antwerp (c. 1460), and Michael Sittow's Virgin and Child from Berlin with his portrait of Diego de Guevara (?) from the National Gallery of Art (c. 1515/1518). Both of these diptychs are examples of a popular theme that showed a donor portrayed on one panel praying to holy personnages depicted on the other panel. Such diptychs, often small in size, were used for private devotion. Another important diptych combines Hans Memling's Saint John the Baptist from Munich with his Saint Veronica from the National Gallery (c. 1470/1475). Many of the works in the exhibition have been given extensive technical examinations that shed light on painting techniques, workshop practice, and the way the diptychs were constructed and displayed—including some that were not originally diptychs at all but were probably meant to hang side by side as pendants. A fully illustrated catalogue will accompany the exhibition.
Organization: Organized by the National Gallery of Art, Washington, and the Koninklijk Museum voor Schone Kunsten, Antwerp, in association with the Harvard University Art Museums, Cambridge.
Sponsor: The exhibition is made possible by the Homeland Foundation, Inc.
Additional support is provided by the Flemish government.
The exhibition is supported by an indemnity from the Federal Council on the Arts and the Humanities.