Hans Memling’s Scenes from the Advent and Triumph of Christ and the Discourse of Revelation

Hans Memling,  Scenes from the Advent and Triumph of Christ,  ca. 1480, Alte Pinakothek, Munich

Hans Memling’s Scenes from the Advent and Triumph of Christ (ca. 1480, Alte Pinakothek, Munich) has one of the most complex narrative structures found in painting from the fifteenth century. It is also one of the earliest panoramic landscape paintings in existence. This Simultanbild has perplexed art historians for many years. The key to understanding Memling’s narrative structure is a consideration of the audience that experienced the painting four different times over the course of a year while participating in the major Church festivals. The goal of Memling’s painting, like that of the liturgical drama which took place in the same setting, was to encourage the revelation that Jesus is the Savior of the participating audience. I propose that it was the panoramic setting that carried this message from the painting to the immediate viewing context. Finally, I suggest that the ultimate goal of Memling’s complex narrative discourse was to help a viewer to experience and reexperience the revelation of Christ.

DOI: 10.5092/jhna.2013.5.1.1

Acknowledgements

I am especially grateful to Mark Trowbridge and Alison Kettering for their invaluable editorial work on this article as well as the two anonymous readers for the JHNA for their extremely helpful reviews. Because this article derives from my doctoral research, I want to thank my dissertation supervisor, Jeffrey Chipps Smith. Many thanks also to Michael Adams and David Coleman for their help with earlier versions of this manuscript.

Hans Memling,  Scenes from the Advent and Triumph of Christ,  ca. 1480,  Alte Pinakothek, Munich
Fig. 1 Hans Memling, Scenes from the Advent and Triumph of Christ, ca. 1480, oil on oak panel, 81 x 189 cm. Alte Pinakothek, Munich, inv. WAF 668. Artwork in the public domain [comparison viewer]
Hans Memling,  Scenes from the Passion of Christ,  ca. 1470,  Galerie Sabauda, Turin
Fig. 2 Hans Memling, Scenes from the Passion of Christ, ca. 1470, oil on oak panel, 56.7 x 92.2 cm. Galerie Sabauda, Turin. Artwork in the public domain. [comparison viewer]
Hans Memling,  Detail of Scenes from the Advent and Triumph of ,  ca. 1480,
Fig. 3 Hans Memling, detail of Scenes from the Advent and Triumph of Christ (fig. 1) [comparison viewer]
Hans Memling,  Detail of Scenes from the Advent and Triumph of ,  ca. 1480,
Fig. 4 Hans Memling, detail of Scenes from the Advent and Triumph of Christ (fig. 1) [comparison viewer]
Hans Memling,  Detail of Scenes from the Advent and Triumph of ,  ca. 1480,
Fig. 5 Hans Memling, detail of Scenes from the Advent and Triumph of Christ (fig. 1), [comparison viewer]
Hans Memling,  Detail of Scenes from the Advent and Triumph of ,  ca. 1480,
Fig. 6 Hans Memling, detail of Scenes from the Advent and Triumph of Christ (fig. 1) [comparison viewer]
Hans Memling,  Scenes from the Advent and Triumph of Christ (f,  ca. 1480,
Fig. 7 Hans Memling, Scenes from the Advent and Triumph of Christ (fig. 1) with overlay. Digital manipulation © Sally Whitman Coleman. [comparison viewer]
  Anonymous Master, The Passion of Christ (The Wasservass Passion),  ca. 1420–30,  Wallraf-Richartz-Museum, Cologne
Fig. 8 Anonymous Master, The Passion of Christ (The Wasservass Passion), ca. 1420–30, tempera on oak panel. Wallraf-Richartz-Museum, Cologne. Artwork in the public domain [comparison viewer]
  Louis Alincbrot,  Scenes from the Life of Christ,  ca. 1445,  Museo Nacional del Prado, Madrid
Fig. 9 Louis Alincbrot, Scenes from the Life of Christ, ca. 1445, oil on wood, 78 x 134 cm. Museo Nacional del Prado, Madrid. Artwork in the public domain [comparison viewer]
  Hans Memling,  Scenes from the Advent and Triumph of Christ (f,  ca. 1480,
Fig. 10 Hans Memling, Scenes from the Advent and Triumph of Christ (fig. 1) with overlay. Digital manipulation © Sally Whitman Coleman. [comparison viewer]
  1. 1. Ehrenfried Kluckert, “Die Simultanbilder Memlings, Ihre Wurzeln und Wirkungen,” Das Münster 27 (1974): 284–95.

  2. 2. Memling did not arrange the four prominent scenes of the Nativity, Adoration of the Magi, Resurrection, and Descent of the Holy Spirit across the foreground in a regular or symmetrical pattern. Furthermore, the scenes of the Annunciation, the Annunciation to the Shepherds, Death of the Virgin, and Assumption of the Virgin are stacked up the sides on the left and right side of the composition and are not linked sequentially with those in the foreground, so they cannot be “read” in succession from left to right. Complicating the reading of the narrative: several scenes in the middle ground extend from events in the foreground and lead to various places in the vast landscape. Some scenes take place in Jerusalem, which is prominent in the background. There also are tiny scenes scattered in the background and dotted along the horizon.

  3. 3. Scholars have recognized that the painting’s theme concerns the revelation of Christ to the world. See Dirk de Vos, Hans Memling: The Complete Works(Ghent: Ludion, 1994), 173–79; Hans Gerhard Evers, Dürer bei Memling (Munich: Fink, 1972), 29–32; and Maurits Smeyers, “‘Analecta Memlingiana’: From Hemling to Memling–from Panoramic View to Compartmented Representation,” in Memling Studies: Proceedings of the International Colloquium (Bruges, 10–12 November 1994), eds. Roger van Schoute, Helene Verougstraete-Marcq, and Maurits Smeyers (Leuven: Peeters, 1997),176d.

  4. 4. Maximilian P. J. Martens, “Artistic Patronage in Bruges Institutions, ca. 1440-1482” (PhD diss., University of California, Santa Barbara, 1992), 27, states that Pieter Bultinc was a typical art patron from late medieval Bruges: he belonged to the upper middle class, was prominent in a powerful guild, and held public office for a time. Martens notes that people like Bultinc were major art patrons, third only to the Church and nobility (p. 170). Typically, these patrons would donate not only paintings and sculptures to religious institutions but also endowments for religious services and other gifts, including jewels, ritual ornaments, and textiles.

  5. 5. “Int iaer m. cccc. lxxx. zo was dit werc ghegheven de ambochte van de hueidevetters van dheer Pieter Bultync fs. Joos, hueidevetter ende coopman, ende joncvrouwe Katelyne syn wyf, Godevaert van Riebekes dochtere, dies moest de priestere van desen ambochte achter elcke misse lesen eenen miserere ende profundis voor aller zielen”: William Henry James Weale, Hans Memling (London: George Bell, 1901), 265. Weale references the record of the purchase of the painting by an Antwerp art dealer De Cock in 1780. For further details on provenance, see De Vos, Hans Memling: The Complete Works, 179.

  6. 6. The rood screen was not added until 1722. Martens, “Artistic Patronage,” 171, tells us that church inventories are not helpful because they rarely included mention of paintings and sculpture, rather they list smaller items that are easily moved. An inventory of the chapel, published in W. H. J. Weale, “Inventaire du moblier de la Corporation des Tanneurs de Bruges,” Le Beffroi 2 (1864–65): 268–71, stated that the painting was above the altar in the chapel and adorned with two metal candleholders and a missal bound with red leather. Weale indicates there were also two sculptures in the chapel; one of the Virgin and the other of Saint Bavo, to whom the Onze-Lieve-Vrouwekerk was dedicated. Two cloaks for the sculptures were donated by the widow of the tanner Jacob Dienst and a metal font with an aspersory for holy water was given by Joris Beyts (pp. 230–31).

  7. 7. Martens, “Artistic Patronage,” 231. For a discussion of the demand for chapels in late medieval Bruges, see Johan Dambruyne, “Corporative Capital and Social Representation in the Southern and Northern Netherlands, 1500–1800,” in Guilds in the Early Modern Low Countries: Work, Power and Representations, ed. C. Lis et al. (Burlington: Ashgate Publishing, 2006), 209–10.

  8. 8. Maximilian P. J. Martens, Het onderzoek naar de opdrachtgevers (Worcester, Mass.: Gundi Publishers, 1995) and Jeffrey Chipps Smith, The Northern Renaissance (London: Phaidon Press, 2004), 224–29.

  9. 9. Other examples of memorial pictures with similar characteristics can be found in the oeuvre of Jan van Eyck, for example, his Madonna with Canon George van der Paele and the Rolin Madonna.

  10. 10. The few extant contracts for paintings during this period reveal that the patron often had considerable control over subject matter, colors, and at times the general arrangement of a composition. Maryan W. Ainsworth, “The Business of Art: Patrons, Clients, and Art Markets,” in From Van Eyck to Bruegel: Early Netherlandish Painting in The Metropolitan Museum of Art, ed. Maryan W. Ainsworth and Keith Christiansen (New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1998), 29–30; Lorne Campbell, The Fifteenth Century Netherlandish Schools (London: National Gallery Publications, 1998), 21–-22; and Wolfgang Stechow, Northern Renaissance Art 1400–1600: Sources and Documents (Evanston, Ill.: Prentice-Hall, 1966), 10–11, 77–78, and 140–45.

  11. 11. Kluckert, “Die Simultanbilder Memlings, Ihre Wurzeln und Wirkungen,” 284–95, referring to the Annunciation, Nativity, and events surrounding the Flight into Egypt, which are on the left and the Assumption of the Virgin, Death of the Virgin, the Appearance of Christ to His Mother, and the Descent of the Holy Spirit, on the right. Devotion to the Virgin was a popular and conventional form of veneration and a conservative bet when looking for God’s favor. There was no more venerated holy figure in the late fifteenth century in Europe than the Virgin Mary. A roadside shrine to Virgin and Child could be found on nearly every street corner in Bruges. Literature and art dedicated to the Virgin proliferated. The many feasts, hymns, legends, plays, sermons, and visions with Marian themes evidence the outpouring of devotion and affection lavished upon this intercessor. In a culture in which people appealed to saints so often in their daily lives, the Virgin Mary had the most powerful and prominent position, as Queen of Heaven to Christ’s King, and she could help at the Last Judgment. See Richard Kieckhefer, “Major Currents in Late Medieval Devotion,” in Christian Spirituality: High Middle Ages and Reformation, ed. Bernard McGinn et al., (New York: Crossroad, 1987),2:89–93; and Marina Warner, Alone of All Her Sex: The Myth and Cult of the Virgin Mary (London: Vintage Books, 1976).

  12. 12. Norbert Schneider, “Zur Ikonographie von Memlings Gemälde ‘Die sieben Freuden Mariens’,” Münchener Jahrbuch der bildenden Kunst 24 (1973): 21–32.

  13. 13. Nelson Goodman, “Twisted Tales; or, Story, Study, and Symphony,” in “On Narrative,” special issue, Critical Inquiry 7, no.1 (Autumn 1980): 103–19. http://dx.doi.org/10.1086/448090, an oft-cited essay on pictorial narrative which declares that sometimes the “order of telling” changes narratives into something else. Goodman used, among other things, Memling’s Scenes from the Passion of Christ  to make his point. I believe that there is an “order of telling” in Memling’s Scenes from the Advent and Triumph of Christ, but that it is not only retains the entire narrative but also is structured to encourage viewers to follow along; therefore, since I disagree with Goodman, I have not elaborated on his argument here.

  14. 14. Lew Andrews, Story and Space in Renaissance Art (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1995).

  15. 15. Andrews, Story and Space in Renaissance Art, 28.

  16. 16. Alfred Acres, “The Columba Altarpiece and the Time of the World,” Art Bulletin 80, no. 3 (September 1998): 422–51. http://dx.doi.org/10.2307/3051299

  17. 17. Acres, “Columba Altarpiece,” 443. http://dx.doi.org/10.2307/3051299

  18. 18. Umberto Eco, Six Walks in the Fictional Woods (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1994), esp. 33–-41. Eco was not the first to separate narratives into categories of story and plot. The first was Viktor Shklovsky, a Russian Formalist. Viktor Shklovsky, “Resurrection of the World” (1914), reprinted in Twentieth Century Studies 7/8 (1973): 41–47. Eco altered and refined his definition of each level of the narrative model, thus it is similar to the Russian Formalist model but not identical to it.

  19. 19. Eco, Six Walks, 32–35.

  20. 20. Eco, Six Walks, 35–41.

  21. 21. Paul Ricoeur, “The Narrative Function,” in Hermeneutics and the Human Sciences, ed. John B. Thompson (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1981), 274–96.

  22. 22. Ricoeur, “Narrative Function,” 278–79.

  23. 23. Shimon Bar-Efrat, Narrative Art in the Bible (London and New York: T&T Clark International, 2004), 13–45, posits an omniscient, omnipresent biblical narrator, God, who inspired all of the narrators of the text, constantly transferring the viewpoint from one person and place to another. This means that the stories of the Scriptures ultimately have one narrator and one voice and tell one story from several different points of view. For elaboration of the rhetoric of omniscience, see Meir Sternberg, The Poetics of Biblical Narrative (Bloomington and Indianapolis: Indiana University Press, 1985).

  24. 24. Curiously, the Appearance of Jesus to His Mother is often considered to be Jesus’ first appearance after the Resurrection and therefore should be pictured on the pathway with the other appearances. Memling likely moved this event to create a visual parallel with the Annunciation on the opposite side of the painting, thereby structuring the story of the Virgin to frame the interior scenes.

  25. 25. Eco, Six Walks in the Fictional Woods, 35–41; and Ricoeur, “The Narrative Function,” 274–75. Ricoeur’s general theory of narrative discourse encompasses both “true” and “fictional” narratives and is related to his belief that humans understand themselves through the linguistic world in which they live and so all human action is considered a type of narrative discourse. Paul Ricoeur, Time and Narrative, 3 vols. (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1990).

  26. 26. For more on this painting, see Adam S. Labuda, “Jan van Eyck, Realist and Narrator,” Artibus and Historiae 14, no. 27 (1993): 9–30. http://dx.doi.org/10.2307/1483443

  27. 27. The method of emphasizing one scene, thereby determining the selection and arrangement of the other, smaller scenes is one that is not unique to Memling’s work. Parallels can be found in the work of Memling’s probable teacher, Rogier van der Weyden, in his Miraflores Altarpiece (ca. 1440, Staatliche Museen, Berlin) and his St. John Altarpiece (1455–60, Staatliche Museen, Berlin) in the relationship between the main scene and the events depicted in the archivolts. Dieric Bouts copied this technique in his Triptych of the Virgin (ca. 1445, Museo del Prado, Madrid). Memling’s Munich SImultanbild simply carried this motif in a different direction, embedding the smaller scenes into a broader setting and more complex system, which is something he would also do in his Passion Altarpiece (1491, St. Annen-Museum, Lübeck). Mark A. Meadow, Pieter Bruegel the Elder’s Netherlandish Proverbs and the Practice of Rhetoric (Zwolle: Waanders Publishers, 2002), made a similar observation about Pieter Bruegel the Elder’s painting, arguing that the arrangement of the scenes in the painting are analogous to Erasmus’ notebook system, which was informed by the rhetorically based system of education and organized in such a manner as to produce knowledge.

  28. 28. Stanley Fish, Surprised by Sin (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1998), a book about the reader’s response to John Milton’s Paradise Lost, pointed out that a convoluted narrative has a rhetoric that keeps the participant alert, causing him/her to assess and reassess his/her point of view. Such a strategy makes the reader complicit in the subject of Milton’s poem. In Stanley Fish, “Not So Much a Teaching as an Intangling,” in Literary Theory: An Anthology, 2nd ed., eds. Julie Rivkin and Michael Ryan (Malden, Mass.: Blackwell Publishing, 2004), 195–217, he observes that by “intangling” the reader, Milton forces him/her to acknowledge the personal relevance of the protagonist.

  29. 29. Mitzi Kirkland-Ives, “Narrative Performance and Devotional Experience in the Art of Hans Memling” (PhD diss., University of California, Santa Barbara, 2005); Micheal O’Connell, “The Civic Theater of Suffering: Hans Memlings’s Passion and Late Medieval Drama,” in European Iconography: East and West, ed. Gyorgy Szonyi (Leiden: E. J.Brill, 1996), 22–34; and Martin Stevens, “The Intertextuality of Late Medieval Art and Drama,” New Literary History 22, no.2 (Spring 1991): 317–37. http://dx.doi.org/10.2307/469041

  30. 30. Reinhard Strohm, Music in Late Medieval Bruges (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1985), 54, says that just before the celebration of the Ascension, the three major Bruges churches and city officials processed from city center to the parish churches of Holy Cross, St. Catherine, and St. Mary Magdalene, which were outside the town walls. Once there, the clergy of each of the three churches sang one mass and one descant. This became a kind of competition as each church was responsible for composing its own music. Mitzi Kirkland-Ives, “Narrative Performance,” 153, noted that during Pentecost week in Bruges, town officials and clergy from Onze-Lieve-Vrouwekerk, St. Savior, and St. Donatian made a pilgrimage to the shrine of the miraculous Virgin of Aardenberg.

  31. 31. Strohm, Music in Late Medieval Bruges, and Thomas Arthur Boogaart, II, “Our Saviour’s Blood: Procession and Community in Late Medieval Bruges,” in Moving Subjects: Processional Performance in the Middle Ages and the Renaissance, eds. Kathleen M. Ashley and Wim N. M. Hüsken, Ludus. Medieval and Early Renaissance Theatre and Drama 5(Amsterdam and Atlanta: Editions Rodophi B.V, 2001), 69–116, and Mark Trowbridge, “Art and Ommegangen: Paintings, Processions, and Dramas in the Late-Medieval Low Countries” (PhD diss., New York University, 2000).

  32. 32. These liturgical plays helped inspire the later vernacular plays, and there is evidence that the clergy and laity created dramatics for religious celebrations together; yet, the two theatrical forms are distinct, each having its own history and function.Lynette Muir, The Biblical Drama of Medieval Europe (New York: Cambridge University Press, 1995), 5–6. http://dx.doi.org/10.1017/CBO9780511519697

  33. 33. By “ideal viewer,” I am referencing Umberto Eco’s concept of the Model Reader, a theoretical individual who makes all the correct choices and assumptions when reading a text. The Model Author is the narrative scheme itself working perfectly, leading the Model Reader along the proper course. Eco, Six Walks, 1–25.

  34. 34. Significantly, these are also the celebrations in which we know the clergy would have welcomed participation of the laity. The four major Church festivals were among the few occasions on which the clergy allowed the laity to witness official Church rites. And in all of the official liturgical dramas for Christmas, Epiphany, Easter, and Pentecost, the purpose was to dramatize the events in the biblical story so attendees could witness them. Muir, The Biblical Drama of Medieval Europe, 18. http://dx.doi.org/10.1017/CBO9780511519697 provides an example of a play from thirteenth-century Klosterneuberg in which clergy allowed the laity to witness the performance. The inscription on the now-lost frame of Scenes from the Advent and Triumph of Christ stated that the image was intended to be seen in concert with the celebration of the Eucharist; however, masses for the dead, the Miserere and De profundis, which were offered privately by chaplains on a daily basis for the souls of departed members of the tanners’ guild, were performed without lay audiences. In fact, John Harper, The Forms and Orders of Western Liturgy from the Tenth to the Eighteenth Century (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1991), 40, states that for the most part, the laity was excluded entirely from participation in the Mass and Office in the late medieval era. Dunbar H. Ogden, The Staging of Drama in the Medieval Church (Newark: University of Delaware Press, 2002),18, makes the same point.

  35. 35. Ogden, Staging of Drama, 35

  36. 36. Ogden, Staging of Drama, 35

  37. 37. For citations of liturgical performances in Onze-Lieve-Vrouwekerk, see Reinhard Strohm, Music in Late Medieval Bruges, 45–46; Alfons Dewitte, “Scholen en onderwijs te Brugge gedurende de middeleeuwen,” Annales de la Société d’Émulation de Bruges 109 (1972): 145–217; and Marcel van Dromme, “Gulden Mis, of Missus Mis,” Annales de la Société d’Émulation de Bruges 58 (1908): 389–96. I am indebted to Mark Trowbridge for these sources.

  38. 38. Ogden, Staging of Drama, 39.

  39. 39. Ogden, Staging of Drama, 76.

  40. 40. Muir, Biblical Drama, 13. http://dx.doi.org/10.1017/CBO9780511519697 Interestingly, the Church borrowed the dialogue from the story of the arrest of Jesus on Good Friday as narrated by John (18:5-7); yet, there is evidence that the Church used the trope widely in the celebration of Easter as early as the late tenth century. In the oldest surviving manuscript with the trope, from ca. 933 CE, the choir, representing the angels at the tomb, sing, Quem queritis in spulchro, O Christicole? (Whom do you seek in the tomb, O Christians?) and the choir representing the Marys and all Christians replies, Jesum Nazarenum, O celicole (Jesus of Nazareth, O heavenly ones). The whole choir then celebrates the Resurrection and sings, Resurrexi et adhuc tecum sum, alleluia (I rose up and am with you still, alleluia).

  41. 41. Leo van Puyvelde, Schilderkunst en Tooneelvertooningen op het einde van de Middeleeuwen(Ghent: W. Siffer, 1912), 93–101.

  42. 42. Strohm, Music in Late Medieval Bruges, 34, 46, 51–53, and 58; and Dromme, “Gulden Mis,” 389–96.

  43. 43. Karl Young, The Drama of the Medieval Church, 2 vols.(Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1962), 2:245.

  44. 44. The others are from Padua and Cividale del Friuli. Ogden, Staging of Drama, 37.

  45. 45. A fourteenth-century manuscript also directs that Mary take the dove and put it under her cloak.Maurice B. McNamee, Vested Angels: Eucharistic Allusions in Early Netherlandish Painting (Leuven: Peeters, 1998), 133; and Ogden, Staging of Drama, 102.

  46. 46. Such references appear often in early Netherlandish Annunciation scenes, and indeed the event has a long history of association with the Eucharist, which signifies the moment when word became flesh. Barbara Lane, The Altar and the Altarpiece: Sacramental Themes in Early Netherlandish Painting (New York: Harper and Row, 1984), 41; and McNamee, Vested Angels, 5–18.

  47. 47. Muir, Biblical Drama of Medieval Europe, 98–104. http://dx.doi.org/10.1017/CBO9780511519697; Ogden, Staging of Drama, 18; Puyvelde, Schilderkunst en Tooneelvertooningen, 101–13; Young, Drama of the Medieval Church, 2:9–28; and Strohm, Music in Late Medieval Bruges, 34 (for the record of a Christmas performance in St. Donatian from the late fourteenth century).

  48. 48. Ogden, Staging of Drama, 37.

  49. 49. Ogden, Staging of Drama, 37.

  50. 50. Muir, Biblical Drama of Medieval Europe, 16. http://dx.doi.org/10.1017/CBO9780511519697

  51. 51. Less common, but interesting, are the directions in the Rouen manuscript for midwives to pull aside curtains set up at the high altar to reveal an effigy of the Virgin and Child. Ogden, Staging of Drama, 70.

  52. 52. Ursula Nilgen, “The Epiphany and the Eucharist: on the Interpretation of Eucharistic Motifs in Medieval Epiphany Scenes,” Art Bulletin 49 (1967): 311. http://dx.doi.org/10.2307/3048491

  53. 53. Émile Mâle, “Les rois mages et le drame liturgique,” Gazette des beaux-arts, ser. 4, no. 4 (1910): 261–70; and Muir, Biblical Drama of Medieval Europe, 104. http://dx.doi.org/10.1017/CBO9780511519697

  54. 54. Ogden, Staging of Drama, 37; and Muir, Biblical Drama of Medieval Europe, 16 and 1048.http://dx.doi.org/10.1017/CBO9780511519697

  55. 55. Ogden, Staging of Drama, 72, writes that whereas sometimes in churches associated with monasteries the clergy did not allow the laity to witness most liturgical dramas, they always performed the Officium Stella in the nave and they clearly performed it for the laity.

  56. 56. Strohm, Music in Late Medieval Bruges, 45; and Dewitte, “Scholen en onderwijs,” 145–217. For records of the Epiphany plays at St. Donatian, see Strohm, Music in Late Medieval Bruges, 34; and Alfons Dewitte, “Boek- en bibliotheekwezen in de Brugse Sint-Donaaskerk, XIIIe – XVe eeuw,” in Sint Donaas en de voormalige Brugse Katedraal, ed. Jean Luc Meulemeester (Bruges: Jong Kristen Onthaal voor Toerisme, 1973–78), 61–95.

  57. 57. Young, Drama of the Medieval Church, 2:50–53; and Mâle, “Les rois mages.”In some versions, the drama also included Herod’s meeting with the scribes. In 1336, the Dominicans in Milan organized an elaborate Epiphany drama in which the Magi process to one church to meet with Herod and the scribes and then to another to sleep before returning “home” via an alternate route, scenes that appear as early as 1347 in a sculpture attributed to Matteo e Campione in the Basilica of Sant’Eustorgio. There are also some examples in art that have the Magi returning home by sea, just as they do in Memling’s painting. Muir, The Biblical Drama of Medieval Europe, 108. http://dx.doi.org/10.1017/CBO9780511519697

  58. 58. Puyvelde, Schilderkunst en Tooneelvertooningen, 113–25.

  59. 59. Young, The Drama of the Medieval Church, 2:102–24; and Muir, The Biblical Drama of Medieval Europe, 109–11. http://dx.doi.org/10.1017/CBO9780511519697

  60. 60. In a fourteenth-century Officium Stella from Rouen the Magi came from different directions in the church, using the aisles, and then met before the high altar, where one of them pointed to a star hanging above it. They approached the manger/high altar, prostrated themselves, and offered gifts to Christ, represented by the host (by the late fifteenth century actors in the roles of Mary and Joseph or sculptures depicting them often flanked the scene). After that the Magi fell asleep, and an angel appeared to them to tell them to take a different route when returning to their countries. Young, The Drama of the Medieval Church, 2:33; and Ogden, The Staging of Drama, 74.

  61. 61. O. B. Hardison, Jr., Christian Rite and Christian Drama in the Middle Ages (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins, 1965), 26; Harper, The Forms and Orders of Western Liturgy, 137; Muir, The Biblical Drama of Medieval Europe, 139–42. http://dx.doi.org/10.1017/CBO9780511519697; Puyvelde, Schilderkunst en Tooneelvertooningen, 162–71; and Young, The Drama of the Medieval Church, 1:125.Of the approximate 1,200 liturgical texts that survive from the Middle Ages in Western Europe, about 1,000 are Visitatio Sepulchri for the celebration of Easter. Ogden, The Staging of Drama, 35.

  62. 62. Muir, Biblical Drama of Medieval Europe, 18. http://dx.doi.org/10.1017/CBO9780511519697

  63. 63. Ogden, Staging of Drama, 36. The author explains that there are some plays from Germany in which there exists a crypt or a permanent sepulcher, normally erected outside the church building. The stage directions in these few cases move in a different direction, but the visibility of the drama to all and the focus upon revelation remains the same.

  64. 64. Ogden, Staging of Drama, 39.

  65. 65. Strohm, Music in Late Medieval Bruges, 45–46. For records of Easter plays at St. Donatian, see Strohm, Music in Late Medieval Bruges, 14, 34, and 257–58, as well as Martens, “Artistic Patronage in Bruges Institutions,” 445 and 448.

  66. 66. Harper, Forms and Orders of Western Liturgy, 149; Ogden, Staging of Drama, 18, 36; Young, Drama of the Medieval Church, 1:369–410; and Émile Mâle, Religious Art from the Twelfth to the Eighteenth Century (New York: Belgrave Press, 1949), 182. If the drama includes the Noli me Tangere, Mary Magdalene steps away from the group and Jesus enters and stands near the high altar to appear to her. Ogden, Staging of Drama, 39.

  67. 67. This play was performed on Easter or even one or two days later. Muir, Biblical Drama of Medieval Europe, 18. http://dx.doi.org/10.1017/CBO9780511519697; Ogden, The Staging of Drama, 37; and Young, Drama of the Medieval Church, 1:450–58.

  68. 68. Ogden, Staging of Drama, 72.

  69. 69. Puyvelde, Schilderkunst en Tooneelvertooningen, 171–74.

  70. 70. Muir, Biblical Drama of Medieval Europe, 142–43. http://dx.doi.org/10.1017/CBO9780511519697

  71. 71. Muir, Biblical Drama of Medieval Europe, 18. http://dx.doi.org/10.1017/CBO9780511519697; and Ogden, Staging of Drama, 103.Sometimes clerics raised a sculpture of Jesus and lowered one of the Devil.Ogden, Staging of Drama, 106, states that the most elaborate account of the celebration of the Ascension is from 1469 in Florence, where the effigy of Jesus was raised onto a platform with the throne of God where a play took place. There is a witness account of a celebration of the Ascension in which the church constructed an entire heavenly Jerusalem atop a platform. Another account claims that Filippo Brunelleschi designed a huge mandorla with angels for the liturgical celebration of the Annunciation.

  72. 72. Young, Drama of the Medieval Church, 1:483

  73. 73. Puyvelde, Schilderkunst en Tooneelvertooningen, 175–77.

  74. 74. Strohm, Music in Late Medieval Bruges, 57. Other churches used a dove on a cord with candles similar to the one from the celebrations of the Annunciation in Tournai Cathedralin the sixteenth century), the release of pigeons (St. Paul’s Cathedral, London, sixteenth century), the use of incense to symbolize the Holy Spirit, or the release of flowers, water, and a dove from the ceiling of the church. Sometimes the liturgical rites would include the use of Hebrew and Greek to represent the gift of tongues. Muir, Biblical Drama of Medieval Europe, 17 and 144–45. http://dx.doi.org/10.1017/CBO9780511519697; Ogden, The Staging of Drama, 102; and Young, The Drama of the Medieval Church, 1:489–91.

  75. 75. Puyvelde, Schilderkunst en Tooneelvertooningen, 187–99; and Young, Drama of the Medieval Church, 2:257.

  76. 76. Strohm, Music in Late Medieval Bruges, 45.

  77. 77. Three Assumption plays survive, all from fifteenth-century Spain, and each follows the story from the Golden Legend rather closely. Muir, Biblical Drama of Medieval Europe, 19 and 146. http://dx.doi.org/10.1017/CBO9780511519697

  78. 78. There also is the possibility that Memling conflated the scene of the Appearance of Christ to His Mother with the moment after the Death of the Virgin when Jesus arrives to take his mother from her coffin and to heaven. This was performed in Spanish liturgical dramas in the late Middle Ages. Memling set the episode right next to the Death of the Virgin and under the Assumption, so it is possible that he encouraged an association between the Appearance of Christ to His Mother and the story of when Jesus returned to earth to assist his mother to heaven. Muir, The Biblical Drama of Medieval Europe, 147. http://dx.doi.org/10.1017/CBO9780511519697

Acres, Alfred. “The Columba Altarpiece and the Time of the World.” Art Bulletin 80/3 (September 1998): 422–51. http://dx.doi.org/10.2307/3051299

Ainsworth, Maryan W. “The Business of Art: Patrons, Clients, and Art Markets.” In From Van Eyck to Bruegel: Early Netherlandish Painting in The Metropolitan Museum of Art, edited by Maryan W. Ainsworth and Keith Christiansen, 23–37. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1998.

Andrews, Lew. Story and Space in Renaissance Art. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1995.

Bar-Efrat, Shimon. Narrative Art in the Bible. London and New York: T&T Clark International, 2004.

Boogaart, Thomas Arthur II. “Our Saviour’s Blood: Procession and Community in Late Medieval Bruges.” In Moving Subjects: Processional Performance in the Middle Ages and the Renaissance, edited by Kathleen M. Ashley and Wim N. M. Hüsken, 69–116. Ludus: Medieval and Early Renaissance Theatre and Drama 5. Amsterdam and Atlanta: Editions Rodophi B.V, 2001.

Campbell, Lorne. The Fifteenth Century Netherlandish Schools. London: National Gallery Publications, 1998.

Dambruyne, Johan. “Corporative Capital and Social Representation in the Southern and Northern Netherlands, 1500–1800.” In CraftGuilds in the Early Modern Low Countries: Work, Power and Representations, edited by C. Lis et al., 194–223. Burlington, Vt.: Ashgate Publishing, 2006.

Dewitte, Alfons. “Scholen en onderwijs te Brugge gedurende de middeleeuwen.” Annales de la Société d’Émulation de Bruges 109 (1972): 145–217.

——.“Boek- en bibliotheekwezen in de Brugse Sint-Donaaskerk, XIIIe – XVe eeuw.” In Sint Donaas en de voormalige Brugse Katedraal, edited by Jean Luc Meulemeester, 61–95. Bruges: Jong Kristen Onthaal voor Toerisme, 1973–78.

Dromme, Marcel van. “Gulden Mis, of Missus Mis.” Annales de la Société d’Émulation de Bruges 58 (1908): 389–96.

Eco, Umberto. Six Walks in the Fictional Woods. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1994.

Evers, Hans Gerhard. Dürer bei Memling. Munich: Fink, 1972.

Fish, Stanley. Surprised by Sin. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1998.

——. “Not So Much a Teaching as an Intangling.” In Literary Theory: An Anthology, 2nd ed., edited by Julie Rivkin and Michael Ryan, 195–217. Malden, Mass.: Blackwell Publishing, 2004.

Goodman, Nelson. “Twisted Tales; or, Story, Study, and Symphony.” In “On Narrative,” special issue, Critical Inquiry 7, no.1 (Autumn 1980): 103–19. http://dx.doi.org/10.1086/448090

Hardison, O. B., Jr. Christian Rite and Christian Drama in the Middle Ages. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins, 1965.

Harper, John. The Forms and Orders of Western Liturgy from the Tenth to the Eighteenth Century. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1991.

Jonsson, Ritva. “The Liturgical Function of the Tropes.” In Embellishing the Liturgy: Tropes and Polyphony, edited by Alejandro Enrique Planchart, 141–66. Burlington, Vt.: Ashgate Press 2009.

Kieckhefer, Richard. “Major Currents in Late Medieval Devotion.” In Christian Spirituality: High Middle Ages and Reformation, edited by Bernard McGinn et al., 2:89–93. New York: Crossroad, 1987.

Kirkland-Ives, Mitzi, “Narrative Performance and Devotional Experience in the Art of Hans Memling.” PhD diss., University of California, Santa Barbara, 2005.

Kluckert, Ehrenfried. “Die Simultanbilder Memlings, Ihre Wurzeln und Wirkungen.” Das Münster 27 (1974): 284–95.

Labuda, Adam S. “Jan van Eyck, Realist and Narrator.” Artibus and Historiae 14, no. 27 (1993): 9–30. http://dx.doi.org/10.2307/1483443

Lane, Barbara. The Altar and the Altarpiece: Sacramental Themes in Early Netherlandish Painting. New York: Harper and Row, 1984.

Mâle, Émile. “Les rois mages et le drame liturgique.” Gazette des beaux-arts, ser. 4, no. 4 (1910): 261–70.

——. Religious Art from the Twelfth to the Eighteenth Century. New York: Belgrave Press, 1949.

Martens, Maximilian P. J. “Artistic Patronage in Bruges Institutions, ca. 1440-1482.” PhD diss., University of California, Santa Barbara, 1992.

——. Het onderzoek naar de opdrachtgevers. Worcester, Mass.: Gundi Publishers, 1995.

McNamee, Maurice B. Vested Angels: Eucharistic Allusions in Early Netherlandish Painting. Leuven: Peeters, 1998.

Meadow, Mark A. Pieter Bruegel the Elder’s Netherlandish Proverbs and the Practice of Rhetoric. Zwolle: Waanders Publishers, 2002.

Muir, Lynette. The Biblical Drama of Medieval Europe. New York: Cambridge University Press, 1995. http://dx.doi.org/10.1017/CBO9780511519697

Nilgen, Ursula. “The Epiphany and the Eucharist: on the Interpretation of Eucharistic Motifs in Medieval Epiphany Scenes.” Art Bulletin 49 (1967): 311–16. http://dx.doi.org/10.2307/3048491

O’Connell, Michael. “The Civic Theater of Suffering: Hans Memlings’s Passion and Late Medieval Drama.” In European Iconography: East and West, edited by Gyorgy Szonyi, 22–34. Leiden: E. J.Brill, 1996.

Ogden, Dunbar H. The Staging of Drama in the Medieval Church. Newark: University of Delaware Press, 2002.

Puyvelde, Leo van. Schilderkunst en Tooneelvertooningen op het einde van de Middeleeuwen. Ghent: W. Siffer, 1912.

Ricoeur, Paul. “The Narrative Function.” In Hermeneutics and the Human Sciences, edited by John B. Thompson, 274–305. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1981.

——. Time and Narrative. 3 vols. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1990.

Schneider, Norbert. “Zur Ikonographie von Memlings Gemälde ‘Die sieben Freuden Mariens’.” Münchener Jahrbuch der bildenden Kunst 24 (1973): 21-–32.

Shklovsky, Viktor. “Resurrection of the World” (1914). Reprinted in Twentieth Century Studies 7/8 (1973): 41–47.

Smeyers, Maurits. “‘Analecta Memlingiana’: From Hemling to Memling–from Panoramic View to Compartmented Representation.” In Memling Studies: Proceedings of the International Colloquium (Bruges, 10–12 November 1994), edited by Roger van Schoute, Helene Verougstraete-Marcq, and Maurits Smeyers, 171-94. Leuven: Peeters, 1997.

Smith, Jeffrey Chipps, The Northern Renaissance. London: Phaidon Press, 2004.

Stechow, Wolfgang. Northern Renaissance Art 1400–1600: Sources and Documents. Evanston, Ill.: Prentice-Hall, 1966.

Sternberg, Meir. The Poetics of Biblical Narrative. Bloomington and Indianapolis: Indiana University Press, 1985.

Stevens, Martin. “The Intertextuality of Late Medieval Art and Drama.” New Literary History 22, no. 2 (Spring 1991): 317–37. http://dx.doi.org/10.2307/469041

Strohm, Reinhard. Music in Late Medieval Bruges. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1985.

Trowbridge, Mark. “Art and Ommegangen: Paintings, Processions, and Dramas in the Late-Medieval Low Countries.” PhD diss., New York University, 2000.

Vos, Dirk de. Hans Memling: The Complete Works. Ghent: Ludion Press, 1994.

Warner, Marina.  Alone of All Her Sex: The Myth and Cult of the Virgin Mary. London: Vintage Books, 1976.

Weale, William Henry James. “Inventaire du moblier de la Corporation des Tanneurs de Bruges.” Le Beffroi 2 (1864–65) 268–71.

——. Hans Memling. London: George Bell, 1901.

Young, Karl. The Drama of the Medieval Church. 2 vols.Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1962.

List of Illustrations

Hans Memling,  Scenes from the Advent and Triumph of Christ,  ca. 1480,  Alte Pinakothek, Munich
Fig. 1 Hans Memling, Scenes from the Advent and Triumph of Christ, ca. 1480, oil on oak panel, 81 x 189 cm. Alte Pinakothek, Munich, inv. WAF 668. Artwork in the public domain [comparison viewer]
Hans Memling,  Scenes from the Passion of Christ,  ca. 1470,  Galerie Sabauda, Turin
Fig. 2 Hans Memling, Scenes from the Passion of Christ, ca. 1470, oil on oak panel, 56.7 x 92.2 cm. Galerie Sabauda, Turin. Artwork in the public domain. [comparison viewer]
Hans Memling,  Detail of Scenes from the Advent and Triumph of ,  ca. 1480,
Fig. 3 Hans Memling, detail of Scenes from the Advent and Triumph of Christ (fig. 1) [comparison viewer]
Hans Memling,  Detail of Scenes from the Advent and Triumph of ,  ca. 1480,
Fig. 4 Hans Memling, detail of Scenes from the Advent and Triumph of Christ (fig. 1) [comparison viewer]
Hans Memling,  Detail of Scenes from the Advent and Triumph of ,  ca. 1480,
Fig. 5 Hans Memling, detail of Scenes from the Advent and Triumph of Christ (fig. 1), [comparison viewer]
Hans Memling,  Detail of Scenes from the Advent and Triumph of ,  ca. 1480,
Fig. 6 Hans Memling, detail of Scenes from the Advent and Triumph of Christ (fig. 1) [comparison viewer]
Hans Memling,  Scenes from the Advent and Triumph of Christ (f,  ca. 1480,
Fig. 7 Hans Memling, Scenes from the Advent and Triumph of Christ (fig. 1) with overlay. Digital manipulation © Sally Whitman Coleman. [comparison viewer]
  Anonymous Master, The Passion of Christ (The Wasservass Passion),  ca. 1420–30,  Wallraf-Richartz-Museum, Cologne
Fig. 8 Anonymous Master, The Passion of Christ (The Wasservass Passion), ca. 1420–30, tempera on oak panel. Wallraf-Richartz-Museum, Cologne. Artwork in the public domain [comparison viewer]
  Louis Alincbrot,  Scenes from the Life of Christ,  ca. 1445,  Museo Nacional del Prado, Madrid
Fig. 9 Louis Alincbrot, Scenes from the Life of Christ, ca. 1445, oil on wood, 78 x 134 cm. Museo Nacional del Prado, Madrid. Artwork in the public domain [comparison viewer]
  Hans Memling,  Scenes from the Advent and Triumph of Christ (f,  ca. 1480,
Fig. 10 Hans Memling, Scenes from the Advent and Triumph of Christ (fig. 1) with overlay. Digital manipulation © Sally Whitman Coleman. [comparison viewer]

Footnotes

  1. 1. Ehrenfried Kluckert, “Die Simultanbilder Memlings, Ihre Wurzeln und Wirkungen,” Das Münster 27 (1974): 284–95.

  2. 2. Memling did not arrange the four prominent scenes of the Nativity, Adoration of the Magi, Resurrection, and Descent of the Holy Spirit across the foreground in a regular or symmetrical pattern. Furthermore, the scenes of the Annunciation, the Annunciation to the Shepherds, Death of the Virgin, and Assumption of the Virgin are stacked up the sides on the left and right side of the composition and are not linked sequentially with those in the foreground, so they cannot be “read” in succession from left to right. Complicating the reading of the narrative: several scenes in the middle ground extend from events in the foreground and lead to various places in the vast landscape. Some scenes take place in Jerusalem, which is prominent in the background. There also are tiny scenes scattered in the background and dotted along the horizon.

  3. 3. Scholars have recognized that the painting’s theme concerns the revelation of Christ to the world. See Dirk de Vos, Hans Memling: The Complete Works(Ghent: Ludion, 1994), 173–79; Hans Gerhard Evers, Dürer bei Memling (Munich: Fink, 1972), 29–32; and Maurits Smeyers, “‘Analecta Memlingiana’: From Hemling to Memling–from Panoramic View to Compartmented Representation,” in Memling Studies: Proceedings of the International Colloquium (Bruges, 10–12 November 1994), eds. Roger van Schoute, Helene Verougstraete-Marcq, and Maurits Smeyers (Leuven: Peeters, 1997),176d.

  4. 4. Maximilian P. J. Martens, “Artistic Patronage in Bruges Institutions, ca. 1440-1482” (PhD diss., University of California, Santa Barbara, 1992), 27, states that Pieter Bultinc was a typical art patron from late medieval Bruges: he belonged to the upper middle class, was prominent in a powerful guild, and held public office for a time. Martens notes that people like Bultinc were major art patrons, third only to the Church and nobility (p. 170). Typically, these patrons would donate not only paintings and sculptures to religious institutions but also endowments for religious services and other gifts, including jewels, ritual ornaments, and textiles.

  5. 5. “Int iaer m. cccc. lxxx. zo was dit werc ghegheven de ambochte van de hueidevetters van dheer Pieter Bultync fs. Joos, hueidevetter ende coopman, ende joncvrouwe Katelyne syn wyf, Godevaert van Riebekes dochtere, dies moest de priestere van desen ambochte achter elcke misse lesen eenen miserere ende profundis voor aller zielen”: William Henry James Weale, Hans Memling (London: George Bell, 1901), 265. Weale references the record of the purchase of the painting by an Antwerp art dealer De Cock in 1780. For further details on provenance, see De Vos, Hans Memling: The Complete Works, 179.

  6. 6. The rood screen was not added until 1722. Martens, “Artistic Patronage,” 171, tells us that church inventories are not helpful because they rarely included mention of paintings and sculpture, rather they list smaller items that are easily moved. An inventory of the chapel, published in W. H. J. Weale, “Inventaire du moblier de la Corporation des Tanneurs de Bruges,” Le Beffroi 2 (1864–65): 268–71, stated that the painting was above the altar in the chapel and adorned with two metal candleholders and a missal bound with red leather. Weale indicates there were also two sculptures in the chapel; one of the Virgin and the other of Saint Bavo, to whom the Onze-Lieve-Vrouwekerk was dedicated. Two cloaks for the sculptures were donated by the widow of the tanner Jacob Dienst and a metal font with an aspersory for holy water was given by Joris Beyts (pp. 230–31).

  7. 7. Martens, “Artistic Patronage,” 231. For a discussion of the demand for chapels in late medieval Bruges, see Johan Dambruyne, “Corporative Capital and Social Representation in the Southern and Northern Netherlands, 1500–1800,” in Guilds in the Early Modern Low Countries: Work, Power and Representations, ed. C. Lis et al. (Burlington: Ashgate Publishing, 2006), 209–10.

  8. 8. Maximilian P. J. Martens, Het onderzoek naar de opdrachtgevers (Worcester, Mass.: Gundi Publishers, 1995) and Jeffrey Chipps Smith, The Northern Renaissance (London: Phaidon Press, 2004), 224–29.

  9. 9. Other examples of memorial pictures with similar characteristics can be found in the oeuvre of Jan van Eyck, for example, his Madonna with Canon George van der Paele and the Rolin Madonna.

  10. 10. The few extant contracts for paintings during this period reveal that the patron often had considerable control over subject matter, colors, and at times the general arrangement of a composition. Maryan W. Ainsworth, “The Business of Art: Patrons, Clients, and Art Markets,” in From Van Eyck to Bruegel: Early Netherlandish Painting in The Metropolitan Museum of Art, ed. Maryan W. Ainsworth and Keith Christiansen (New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1998), 29–30; Lorne Campbell, The Fifteenth Century Netherlandish Schools (London: National Gallery Publications, 1998), 21–-22; and Wolfgang Stechow, Northern Renaissance Art 1400–1600: Sources and Documents (Evanston, Ill.: Prentice-Hall, 1966), 10–11, 77–78, and 140–45.

  11. 11. Kluckert, “Die Simultanbilder Memlings, Ihre Wurzeln und Wirkungen,” 284–95, referring to the Annunciation, Nativity, and events surrounding the Flight into Egypt, which are on the left and the Assumption of the Virgin, Death of the Virgin, the Appearance of Christ to His Mother, and the Descent of the Holy Spirit, on the right. Devotion to the Virgin was a popular and conventional form of veneration and a conservative bet when looking for God’s favor. There was no more venerated holy figure in the late fifteenth century in Europe than the Virgin Mary. A roadside shrine to Virgin and Child could be found on nearly every street corner in Bruges. Literature and art dedicated to the Virgin proliferated. The many feasts, hymns, legends, plays, sermons, and visions with Marian themes evidence the outpouring of devotion and affection lavished upon this intercessor. In a culture in which people appealed to saints so often in their daily lives, the Virgin Mary had the most powerful and prominent position, as Queen of Heaven to Christ’s King, and she could help at the Last Judgment. See Richard Kieckhefer, “Major Currents in Late Medieval Devotion,” in Christian Spirituality: High Middle Ages and Reformation, ed. Bernard McGinn et al., (New York: Crossroad, 1987),2:89–93; and Marina Warner, Alone of All Her Sex: The Myth and Cult of the Virgin Mary (London: Vintage Books, 1976).

  12. 12. Norbert Schneider, “Zur Ikonographie von Memlings Gemälde ‘Die sieben Freuden Mariens’,” Münchener Jahrbuch der bildenden Kunst 24 (1973): 21–32.

  13. 13. Nelson Goodman, “Twisted Tales; or, Story, Study, and Symphony,” in “On Narrative,” special issue, Critical Inquiry 7, no.1 (Autumn 1980): 103–19. http://dx.doi.org/10.1086/448090, an oft-cited essay on pictorial narrative which declares that sometimes the “order of telling” changes narratives into something else. Goodman used, among other things, Memling’s Scenes from the Passion of Christ  to make his point. I believe that there is an “order of telling” in Memling’s Scenes from the Advent and Triumph of Christ, but that it is not only retains the entire narrative but also is structured to encourage viewers to follow along; therefore, since I disagree with Goodman, I have not elaborated on his argument here.

  14. 14. Lew Andrews, Story and Space in Renaissance Art (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1995).

  15. 15. Andrews, Story and Space in Renaissance Art, 28.

  16. 16. Alfred Acres, “The Columba Altarpiece and the Time of the World,” Art Bulletin 80, no. 3 (September 1998): 422–51. http://dx.doi.org/10.2307/3051299

  17. 17. Acres, “Columba Altarpiece,” 443. http://dx.doi.org/10.2307/3051299

  18. 18. Umberto Eco, Six Walks in the Fictional Woods (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1994), esp. 33–-41. Eco was not the first to separate narratives into categories of story and plot. The first was Viktor Shklovsky, a Russian Formalist. Viktor Shklovsky, “Resurrection of the World” (1914), reprinted in Twentieth Century Studies 7/8 (1973): 41–47. Eco altered and refined his definition of each level of the narrative model, thus it is similar to the Russian Formalist model but not identical to it.

  19. 19. Eco, Six Walks, 32–35.

  20. 20. Eco, Six Walks, 35–41.

  21. 21. Paul Ricoeur, “The Narrative Function,” in Hermeneutics and the Human Sciences, ed. John B. Thompson (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1981), 274–96.

  22. 22. Ricoeur, “Narrative Function,” 278–79.

  23. 23. Shimon Bar-Efrat, Narrative Art in the Bible (London and New York: T&T Clark International, 2004), 13–45, posits an omniscient, omnipresent biblical narrator, God, who inspired all of the narrators of the text, constantly transferring the viewpoint from one person and place to another. This means that the stories of the Scriptures ultimately have one narrator and one voice and tell one story from several different points of view. For elaboration of the rhetoric of omniscience, see Meir Sternberg, The Poetics of Biblical Narrative (Bloomington and Indianapolis: Indiana University Press, 1985).

  24. 24. Curiously, the Appearance of Jesus to His Mother is often considered to be Jesus’ first appearance after the Resurrection and therefore should be pictured on the pathway with the other appearances. Memling likely moved this event to create a visual parallel with the Annunciation on the opposite side of the painting, thereby structuring the story of the Virgin to frame the interior scenes.

  25. 25. Eco, Six Walks in the Fictional Woods, 35–41; and Ricoeur, “The Narrative Function,” 274–75. Ricoeur’s general theory of narrative discourse encompasses both “true” and “fictional” narratives and is related to his belief that humans understand themselves through the linguistic world in which they live and so all human action is considered a type of narrative discourse. Paul Ricoeur, Time and Narrative, 3 vols. (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1990).

  26. 26. For more on this painting, see Adam S. Labuda, “Jan van Eyck, Realist and Narrator,” Artibus and Historiae 14, no. 27 (1993): 9–30. http://dx.doi.org/10.2307/1483443

  27. 27. The method of emphasizing one scene, thereby determining the selection and arrangement of the other, smaller scenes is one that is not unique to Memling’s work. Parallels can be found in the work of Memling’s probable teacher, Rogier van der Weyden, in his Miraflores Altarpiece (ca. 1440, Staatliche Museen, Berlin) and his St. John Altarpiece (1455–60, Staatliche Museen, Berlin) in the relationship between the main scene and the events depicted in the archivolts. Dieric Bouts copied this technique in his Triptych of the Virgin (ca. 1445, Museo del Prado, Madrid). Memling’s Munich SImultanbild simply carried this motif in a different direction, embedding the smaller scenes into a broader setting and more complex system, which is something he would also do in his Passion Altarpiece (1491, St. Annen-Museum, Lübeck). Mark A. Meadow, Pieter Bruegel the Elder’s Netherlandish Proverbs and the Practice of Rhetoric (Zwolle: Waanders Publishers, 2002), made a similar observation about Pieter Bruegel the Elder’s painting, arguing that the arrangement of the scenes in the painting are analogous to Erasmus’ notebook system, which was informed by the rhetorically based system of education and organized in such a manner as to produce knowledge.

  28. 28. Stanley Fish, Surprised by Sin (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1998), a book about the reader’s response to John Milton’s Paradise Lost, pointed out that a convoluted narrative has a rhetoric that keeps the participant alert, causing him/her to assess and reassess his/her point of view. Such a strategy makes the reader complicit in the subject of Milton’s poem. In Stanley Fish, “Not So Much a Teaching as an Intangling,” in Literary Theory: An Anthology, 2nd ed., eds. Julie Rivkin and Michael Ryan (Malden, Mass.: Blackwell Publishing, 2004), 195–217, he observes that by “intangling” the reader, Milton forces him/her to acknowledge the personal relevance of the protagonist.

  29. 29. Mitzi Kirkland-Ives, “Narrative Performance and Devotional Experience in the Art of Hans Memling” (PhD diss., University of California, Santa Barbara, 2005); Micheal O’Connell, “The Civic Theater of Suffering: Hans Memlings’s Passion and Late Medieval Drama,” in European Iconography: East and West, ed. Gyorgy Szonyi (Leiden: E. J.Brill, 1996), 22–34; and Martin Stevens, “The Intertextuality of Late Medieval Art and Drama,” New Literary History 22, no.2 (Spring 1991): 317–37. http://dx.doi.org/10.2307/469041

  30. 30. Reinhard Strohm, Music in Late Medieval Bruges (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1985), 54, says that just before the celebration of the Ascension, the three major Bruges churches and city officials processed from city center to the parish churches of Holy Cross, St. Catherine, and St. Mary Magdalene, which were outside the town walls. Once there, the clergy of each of the three churches sang one mass and one descant. This became a kind of competition as each church was responsible for composing its own music. Mitzi Kirkland-Ives, “Narrative Performance,” 153, noted that during Pentecost week in Bruges, town officials and clergy from Onze-Lieve-Vrouwekerk, St. Savior, and St. Donatian made a pilgrimage to the shrine of the miraculous Virgin of Aardenberg.

  31. 31. Strohm, Music in Late Medieval Bruges, and Thomas Arthur Boogaart, II, “Our Saviour’s Blood: Procession and Community in Late Medieval Bruges,” in Moving Subjects: Processional Performance in the Middle Ages and the Renaissance, eds. Kathleen M. Ashley and Wim N. M. Hüsken, Ludus. Medieval and Early Renaissance Theatre and Drama 5(Amsterdam and Atlanta: Editions Rodophi B.V, 2001), 69–116, and Mark Trowbridge, “Art and Ommegangen: Paintings, Processions, and Dramas in the Late-Medieval Low Countries” (PhD diss., New York University, 2000).

  32. 32. These liturgical plays helped inspire the later vernacular plays, and there is evidence that the clergy and laity created dramatics for religious celebrations together; yet, the two theatrical forms are distinct, each having its own history and function.Lynette Muir, The Biblical Drama of Medieval Europe (New York: Cambridge University Press, 1995), 5–6. http://dx.doi.org/10.1017/CBO9780511519697

  33. 33. By “ideal viewer,” I am referencing Umberto Eco’s concept of the Model Reader, a theoretical individual who makes all the correct choices and assumptions when reading a text. The Model Author is the narrative scheme itself working perfectly, leading the Model Reader along the proper course. Eco, Six Walks, 1–25.

  34. 34. Significantly, these are also the celebrations in which we know the clergy would have welcomed participation of the laity. The four major Church festivals were among the few occasions on which the clergy allowed the laity to witness official Church rites. And in all of the official liturgical dramas for Christmas, Epiphany, Easter, and Pentecost, the purpose was to dramatize the events in the biblical story so attendees could witness them. Muir, The Biblical Drama of Medieval Europe, 18. http://dx.doi.org/10.1017/CBO9780511519697 provides an example of a play from thirteenth-century Klosterneuberg in which clergy allowed the laity to witness the performance. The inscription on the now-lost frame of Scenes from the Advent and Triumph of Christ stated that the image was intended to be seen in concert with the celebration of the Eucharist; however, masses for the dead, the Miserere and De profundis, which were offered privately by chaplains on a daily basis for the souls of departed members of the tanners’ guild, were performed without lay audiences. In fact, John Harper, The Forms and Orders of Western Liturgy from the Tenth to the Eighteenth Century (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1991), 40, states that for the most part, the laity was excluded entirely from participation in the Mass and Office in the late medieval era. Dunbar H. Ogden, The Staging of Drama in the Medieval Church (Newark: University of Delaware Press, 2002),18, makes the same point.

  35. 35. Ogden, Staging of Drama, 35

  36. 36. Ogden, Staging of Drama, 35

  37. 37. For citations of liturgical performances in Onze-Lieve-Vrouwekerk, see Reinhard Strohm, Music in Late Medieval Bruges, 45–46; Alfons Dewitte, “Scholen en onderwijs te Brugge gedurende de middeleeuwen,” Annales de la Société d’Émulation de Bruges 109 (1972): 145–217; and Marcel van Dromme, “Gulden Mis, of Missus Mis,” Annales de la Société d’Émulation de Bruges 58 (1908): 389–96. I am indebted to Mark Trowbridge for these sources.

  38. 38. Ogden, Staging of Drama, 39.

  39. 39. Ogden, Staging of Drama, 76.

  40. 40. Muir, Biblical Drama, 13. http://dx.doi.org/10.1017/CBO9780511519697 Interestingly, the Church borrowed the dialogue from the story of the arrest of Jesus on Good Friday as narrated by John (18:5-7); yet, there is evidence that the Church used the trope widely in the celebration of Easter as early as the late tenth century. In the oldest surviving manuscript with the trope, from ca. 933 CE, the choir, representing the angels at the tomb, sing, Quem queritis in spulchro, O Christicole? (Whom do you seek in the tomb, O Christians?) and the choir representing the Marys and all Christians replies, Jesum Nazarenum, O celicole (Jesus of Nazareth, O heavenly ones). The whole choir then celebrates the Resurrection and sings, Resurrexi et adhuc tecum sum, alleluia (I rose up and am with you still, alleluia).

  41. 41. Leo van Puyvelde, Schilderkunst en Tooneelvertooningen op het einde van de Middeleeuwen(Ghent: W. Siffer, 1912), 93–101.

  42. 42. Strohm, Music in Late Medieval Bruges, 34, 46, 51–53, and 58; and Dromme, “Gulden Mis,” 389–96.

  43. 43. Karl Young, The Drama of the Medieval Church, 2 vols.(Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1962), 2:245.

  44. 44. The others are from Padua and Cividale del Friuli. Ogden, Staging of Drama, 37.

  45. 45. A fourteenth-century manuscript also directs that Mary take the dove and put it under her cloak.Maurice B. McNamee, Vested Angels: Eucharistic Allusions in Early Netherlandish Painting (Leuven: Peeters, 1998), 133; and Ogden, Staging of Drama, 102.

  46. 46. Such references appear often in early Netherlandish Annunciation scenes, and indeed the event has a long history of association with the Eucharist, which signifies the moment when word became flesh. Barbara Lane, The Altar and the Altarpiece: Sacramental Themes in Early Netherlandish Painting (New York: Harper and Row, 1984), 41; and McNamee, Vested Angels, 5–18.

  47. 47. Muir, Biblical Drama of Medieval Europe, 98–104. http://dx.doi.org/10.1017/CBO9780511519697; Ogden, Staging of Drama, 18; Puyvelde, Schilderkunst en Tooneelvertooningen, 101–13; Young, Drama of the Medieval Church, 2:9–28; and Strohm, Music in Late Medieval Bruges, 34 (for the record of a Christmas performance in St. Donatian from the late fourteenth century).

  48. 48. Ogden, Staging of Drama, 37.

  49. 49. Ogden, Staging of Drama, 37.

  50. 50. Muir, Biblical Drama of Medieval Europe, 16. http://dx.doi.org/10.1017/CBO9780511519697

  51. 51. Less common, but interesting, are the directions in the Rouen manuscript for midwives to pull aside curtains set up at the high altar to reveal an effigy of the Virgin and Child. Ogden, Staging of Drama, 70.

  52. 52. Ursula Nilgen, “The Epiphany and the Eucharist: on the Interpretation of Eucharistic Motifs in Medieval Epiphany Scenes,” Art Bulletin 49 (1967): 311. http://dx.doi.org/10.2307/3048491

  53. 53. Émile Mâle, “Les rois mages et le drame liturgique,” Gazette des beaux-arts, ser. 4, no. 4 (1910): 261–70; and Muir, Biblical Drama of Medieval Europe, 104. http://dx.doi.org/10.1017/CBO9780511519697

  54. 54. Ogden, Staging of Drama, 37; and Muir, Biblical Drama of Medieval Europe, 16 and 1048.http://dx.doi.org/10.1017/CBO9780511519697

  55. 55. Ogden, Staging of Drama, 72, writes that whereas sometimes in churches associated with monasteries the clergy did not allow the laity to witness most liturgical dramas, they always performed the Officium Stella in the nave and they clearly performed it for the laity.

  56. 56. Strohm, Music in Late Medieval Bruges, 45; and Dewitte, “Scholen en onderwijs,” 145–217. For records of the Epiphany plays at St. Donatian, see Strohm, Music in Late Medieval Bruges, 34; and Alfons Dewitte, “Boek- en bibliotheekwezen in de Brugse Sint-Donaaskerk, XIIIe – XVe eeuw,” in Sint Donaas en de voormalige Brugse Katedraal, ed. Jean Luc Meulemeester (Bruges: Jong Kristen Onthaal voor Toerisme, 1973–78), 61–95.

  57. 57. Young, Drama of the Medieval Church, 2:50–53; and Mâle, “Les rois mages.”In some versions, the drama also included Herod’s meeting with the scribes. In 1336, the Dominicans in Milan organized an elaborate Epiphany drama in which the Magi process to one church to meet with Herod and the scribes and then to another to sleep before returning “home” via an alternate route, scenes that appear as early as 1347 in a sculpture attributed to Matteo e Campione in the Basilica of Sant’Eustorgio. There are also some examples in art that have the Magi returning home by sea, just as they do in Memling’s painting. Muir, The Biblical Drama of Medieval Europe, 108. http://dx.doi.org/10.1017/CBO9780511519697

  58. 58. Puyvelde, Schilderkunst en Tooneelvertooningen, 113–25.

  59. 59. Young, The Drama of the Medieval Church, 2:102–24; and Muir, The Biblical Drama of Medieval Europe, 109–11. http://dx.doi.org/10.1017/CBO9780511519697

  60. 60. In a fourteenth-century Officium Stella from Rouen the Magi came from different directions in the church, using the aisles, and then met before the high altar, where one of them pointed to a star hanging above it. They approached the manger/high altar, prostrated themselves, and offered gifts to Christ, represented by the host (by the late fifteenth century actors in the roles of Mary and Joseph or sculptures depicting them often flanked the scene). After that the Magi fell asleep, and an angel appeared to them to tell them to take a different route when returning to their countries. Young, The Drama of the Medieval Church, 2:33; and Ogden, The Staging of Drama, 74.

  61. 61. O. B. Hardison, Jr., Christian Rite and Christian Drama in the Middle Ages (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins, 1965), 26; Harper, The Forms and Orders of Western Liturgy, 137; Muir, The Biblical Drama of Medieval Europe, 139–42. http://dx.doi.org/10.1017/CBO9780511519697; Puyvelde, Schilderkunst en Tooneelvertooningen, 162–71; and Young, The Drama of the Medieval Church, 1:125.Of the approximate 1,200 liturgical texts that survive from the Middle Ages in Western Europe, about 1,000 are Visitatio Sepulchri for the celebration of Easter. Ogden, The Staging of Drama, 35.

  62. 62. Muir, Biblical Drama of Medieval Europe, 18. http://dx.doi.org/10.1017/CBO9780511519697

  63. 63. Ogden, Staging of Drama, 36. The author explains that there are some plays from Germany in which there exists a crypt or a permanent sepulcher, normally erected outside the church building. The stage directions in these few cases move in a different direction, but the visibility of the drama to all and the focus upon revelation remains the same.

  64. 64. Ogden, Staging of Drama, 39.

  65. 65. Strohm, Music in Late Medieval Bruges, 45–46. For records of Easter plays at St. Donatian, see Strohm, Music in Late Medieval Bruges, 14, 34, and 257–58, as well as Martens, “Artistic Patronage in Bruges Institutions,” 445 and 448.

  66. 66. Harper, Forms and Orders of Western Liturgy, 149; Ogden, Staging of Drama, 18, 36; Young, Drama of the Medieval Church, 1:369–410; and Émile Mâle, Religious Art from the Twelfth to the Eighteenth Century (New York: Belgrave Press, 1949), 182. If the drama includes the Noli me Tangere, Mary Magdalene steps away from the group and Jesus enters and stands near the high altar to appear to her. Ogden, Staging of Drama, 39.

  67. 67. This play was performed on Easter or even one or two days later. Muir, Biblical Drama of Medieval Europe, 18. http://dx.doi.org/10.1017/CBO9780511519697; Ogden, The Staging of Drama, 37; and Young, Drama of the Medieval Church, 1:450–58.

  68. 68. Ogden, Staging of Drama, 72.

  69. 69. Puyvelde, Schilderkunst en Tooneelvertooningen, 171–74.

  70. 70. Muir, Biblical Drama of Medieval Europe, 142–43. http://dx.doi.org/10.1017/CBO9780511519697

  71. 71. Muir, Biblical Drama of Medieval Europe, 18. http://dx.doi.org/10.1017/CBO9780511519697; and Ogden, Staging of Drama, 103.Sometimes clerics raised a sculpture of Jesus and lowered one of the Devil.Ogden, Staging of Drama, 106, states that the most elaborate account of the celebration of the Ascension is from 1469 in Florence, where the effigy of Jesus was raised onto a platform with the throne of God where a play took place. There is a witness account of a celebration of the Ascension in which the church constructed an entire heavenly Jerusalem atop a platform. Another account claims that Filippo Brunelleschi designed a huge mandorla with angels for the liturgical celebration of the Annunciation.

  72. 72. Young, Drama of the Medieval Church, 1:483

  73. 73. Puyvelde, Schilderkunst en Tooneelvertooningen, 175–77.

  74. 74. Strohm, Music in Late Medieval Bruges, 57. Other churches used a dove on a cord with candles similar to the one from the celebrations of the Annunciation in Tournai Cathedralin the sixteenth century), the release of pigeons (St. Paul’s Cathedral, London, sixteenth century), the use of incense to symbolize the Holy Spirit, or the release of flowers, water, and a dove from the ceiling of the church. Sometimes the liturgical rites would include the use of Hebrew and Greek to represent the gift of tongues. Muir, Biblical Drama of Medieval Europe, 17 and 144–45. http://dx.doi.org/10.1017/CBO9780511519697; Ogden, The Staging of Drama, 102; and Young, The Drama of the Medieval Church, 1:489–91.

  75. 75. Puyvelde, Schilderkunst en Tooneelvertooningen, 187–99; and Young, Drama of the Medieval Church, 2:257.

  76. 76. Strohm, Music in Late Medieval Bruges, 45.

  77. 77. Three Assumption plays survive, all from fifteenth-century Spain, and each follows the story from the Golden Legend rather closely. Muir, Biblical Drama of Medieval Europe, 19 and 146. http://dx.doi.org/10.1017/CBO9780511519697

  78. 78. There also is the possibility that Memling conflated the scene of the Appearance of Christ to His Mother with the moment after the Death of the Virgin when Jesus arrives to take his mother from her coffin and to heaven. This was performed in Spanish liturgical dramas in the late Middle Ages. Memling set the episode right next to the Death of the Virgin and under the Assumption, so it is possible that he encouraged an association between the Appearance of Christ to His Mother and the story of when Jesus returned to earth to assist his mother to heaven. Muir, The Biblical Drama of Medieval Europe, 147. http://dx.doi.org/10.1017/CBO9780511519697

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DOI: 10.5092/jhna.2013.5.1.1
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Sally Whitman Coleman, "Hans Memling’s Scenes from the Advent and Triumph of Christ and the Discourse of Revelation," Journal of Historians of Netherlandish Art 5:1 (Winter 2013) DOI: 10.5092/jhna.2013.5.1.1