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Prayers and Portraits
Unfolding the Netherlandish Diptych
November 12, 2006 – February 4, 2007
West Building, Main Floor, Galleries 74 through 77

This exhibition is no longer on view at the National Gallery.

Overview: 89 paintings, including 36 complete diptychs or pairs of paintings, were on view in this exhibition of Netherlandish works from the 15th and 16th centuries. 22 pairs were on loan to the United States for the first time. Paintings by Jan van Eyck, Hugo van der Goes, Hans Memling, Rogier van der Weyden, and others were included in the presentation, which reunited some pairs that had been separated for centuries. Nearly 10 years of research and technical examination of the works of art were an integral part of exhibition planning.

Two roundtables were held in advance of the exhibition to address a variety of issues pertaining to the diptychs. Research findings were presented in Essays in Context: Unfolding the Netherlandish Diptych, edited by John Oliver Hand and Ron Spronk.

An audio tour narrated by National Gallery of Art director Earl A. Powell III and others was available. A male vocal ensemble, The Suspicious Cheese Lords, performed music by northern Renaissance composers at a concert in honor of the exhibition in November. A public symposium, An Inside Look at Netherlandish Diptychs, was held on December 2. A teacher workshop, Unfolding the Netherlandish Diptych, was presented in December, supported by the Prince Charitable Trusts. A family workshop, It Takes Two!, focusing on portraiture and the diptych, was presented on 3 Saturdays in January.

Organization: The exhibition was 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. The curators were John Oliver Hand, curator of northern Renaissance paintings, National Gallery of Art; Catherine A. Metzger, senior conservator of painting, National Gallery of Art; and Ron Spronk, associate curator for research, the Straus Center for Conservation, Harvard University Art Museums.

Sponsor: The exhibition was made possible by the Homeland Foundation, Inc. Additional support was provided by the Flemish government. The exhibition was supported by an indemnity from the Federal Council on the Arts and the Humanities. Technical examination of the works of art was made possible by a Collaborative Research Grant from the Getty Foundation.

Attendance: 65,489

Catalog: Prayers and Portraits: Unfolding the Netherlandish Diptych, by John Oliver Hand et al. Washington, D.C.: National Gallery of Art in association with Yale University Press, New Haven and London, 2006.

Brochure: Prayers and Portraits: Unfolding the Netherlandish Diptych, by John Oliver Hand. Washington, D.C.: National Gallery of Art, 2006

Other Venues: Koninklijk Museum voor Schone Kunsten, Antwerp, March 3–May 27, 2007

Image: Michel Sittow, Portrait of Diego de Guevara (?), c. 1515/1518, oil on panel, Andrew W. Mellon Collection, 1937.1.46