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Triptych with The Entry of Christ into Jerusalem, saints and on the outside of the wings, patrons of the Van Lokhorst family

Jan van Scorel1526 - 1527

Centraal Museum

Centraal Museum
Utrecht, Netherlands

In 1518, Jan van Scorel left Utrecht to travel to Italy via Germany and Austria. From Venice he embarked on a pilgrimage to Jerusalem. There he made pen drawings which he later used for the view on Jerusalem, on the central panel of this triptych. In 1522 Scorel settled in Rome, where the Utrechter pope Adrian Florisz Boeyens (1459-1523) appointed him to succeed Raphael (1483-1520) as ‘conservator’ of the Vatican’s art treasures. After the Pope’s death in 1523, Scorel returned to Utrecht. According to his biographer Karel van Mander he took up residence with Herman van Lokhorst, deacon of the St-Salvator church and canon of the Dom church. It was he who commissioned Scorel to paint the Triptych with the Entry of Christ into Jerusalem. It is Scorel’s first major known work after his return from Rome, and it shows the influence of his Italian stay. Scorel adopted the diagonal setup of the composition on the central panel from Michelangelo’s The Great Flood on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel (1508-1512), and the Italianate figures are influenced by Raphael’s work. The patron and his forebears are depicted on the outside of the wings. The two Latin inscriptions report the names and death dates of the depicted people and the context of the commission. It transpires that Herman van Lokhorst was having his forebears’ tomb in the Dom church restored. This restoration probably motivated the commission for the triptych. The saints painted on the inside of the wings -- Agnes, Pope Cornelius, Abbot Antonius, Sebastian, Gertrude of Nivelles and finally Christopher – offered protection against fever, the pest or a sudden death. In that event, Agnes would represent purity. Christ’s entry into earthly Jerusalem is a suitable image for a memorial tablet. It refers to the entry of the soul into celestial Jerusalem and the triumph over death. The Liturgy of the Dead still invokes the image of the heavenly city of Jerusalem to mark the moment that the body is carried from the church.

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