© Musee des Beaux-Arts Dijon/Francois Jay

Retable of the Crucifixion

Jacques de Baerze, Melchior Broederlam, 1391 — 1399
Musée des Beaux-Arts, Dijon

Deeply impressed by the fine and innovative carving of Jacques de Baerze, Duke Philip the Bold ordered this carved wooden altarpiece in 1390 for the abbey church in the Chartreuse de Champmol, Dijon. In 1393, Melchior Broederlam from Ypres was commissioned to gild the altarpiece and paint the wings. It is the only work that we can attribute to him with confidence. The collaboration between De Baerze and Broederlam led to one of the earliest surviving testimonies to the existence of sculpted retables with painted panels. Moreover, the quality of carving, painting, and polychrome is of a particularly high standard. The realistically executed details, the rendering of materials, the play of light, and the suggestion of space are astonishing and innovative, presaging the work of great masters such as Robert Campin and Jan van Eyck, who would create a sensation in the early fifteenth century.

Anne van Oosterwijk, Director of Collection, Musea Brugge