Mérode Altarpiece (Triptych of the Annunciation) by Robert Campin (Master of Flémalle) Essay

Words: 1084
Pages: 5

Art is everywhere; from architecture to sculptures, paintings, pictures and even flower gardens. There are many styles and techniques used by artists to capture the eye of a viewer and draw them into the artwork. One such art piece that has this effect is: Mérode Altarpiece (Triptych of the Annunciation) by Robert Campin (Master of Flémalle), circa 1425-1430s. This beautiful triptych was painted in oil on oak panels, with the center panel measuring 25 1/4 x
24 7/8” and each side panel measuring approximately 25 3/8 x 10 3/4”. This work of art currently resides at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, where it is displayed for all to see. This triptych painting exudes a biblical reference whereas the main subjects are Mary
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During the time period of this art piece it was not uncommon for Flemish donors to be included in a painting or other work of art. The donor couple in this panel is included in a way that suggests that they are witnessing the miracle as a vision through meditation of their faith, as evidenced by noting the unfocused eyes of the couple. In this triptych the donor couple is painted using the same scale of the other figures in the panels; that was not always the case. There is a man of unknown significance in the background of this panel; he could be the donor’s servant or a portrait of the artist. After observing each panel separately, surveying the triptych as a whole reveals some elements worth noting. The use of light in this painting is somewhat perplexing. The illumination seems to come from the top left of the donor’s panel, but in the picture plane not the actual painting. The other sources of light come from the windows in the background of the center and right flank of the painting. Another interesting aspect is the different dimensions and perspectives created in each scene. In Joseph’s workshop the view seems to taper from front to back as in intuitive perspective. The center panel seems to be angled, as if the artist wanted the viewer to see the scene from an elevated height. The left wing of the triptych seems almost out of place when compared to the other two panels, possibly having been added later or