The central panel shows the birth of Christ with the donor worshipping the child, who is lying on the floor of the stable, with a bright light around him. The Romanesque architectural forms of the building make it clear that the appearance of Christ brought a new era. Joseph is protecting the candle-flame to show that all earthly light is outshone by the divine child. On the right-hand panel the Three Magi are kneeling before the divine child. The left-hand panel shows Emperor Augustus, the ruler of the Western world, accompanied by a prophetess, kneeling to the vision of the Madonna. The triptych thus encompasses the whole world in that the rulers of the East and the West submit to the infant Christ, the King of Kings.


  • Title: The Middelburg Altar
  • Creator: Rogier van der Weyden
  • Date Created: around 1450
  • Physical Dimensions: w89 cm (centre) / 40 cm (wings) x h91 cm (centre) / 91 cm (wings)
  • Type: Painting
  • External Link: Gemäldegalerie, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin
  • Medium: Oil on oak wood
  • Style: Netherlandish
  • Copyright Text: Text: © http://www.prestel.com, Prestel Verlag / Rainald Grosshans // Photo: © http://www.bpk-images.de, b p k - Photo Agency / Gemäldegalerie, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin
  • Collection: Gemäldegalerie, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin
  • Artist information: Rogier van der Weyden was an early Netherlandish painter and a student of Robert Campin. He gained the title of master on 1 August 1432. Between 1436 and 1437 he was awarded the post of official city painter of Brussels. Van der Weyden exerted considerable influence on European painting, not only in France and Germany but as far away as Italy and Spain, due to his vigorous, subtle, expressive painting and popular religious conceptions. The detail in his work is painted in a stunningly realistic and affectionate way. His most famous paintings were four large panels representing the Justice of Trajan and Justice of Herkenbald. These panels were commissioned by the city of Brussels for the golden chamber of the Brussels town hall.
  • Artist Place of Death: Brussels, Belgium
  • Artist Place of Birth: Tournai, France
  • Artist Gender: male
  • Artist Dates: 1399/1464

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