Skip to main content

The Averbode altarpiece

The Averbode altarpiece (retable)
Wooden sculpture attributed to Jacob van Cothem (working from 1500 to 1524); painter unknown
Antwerp, 1514
Oak and oil paint
MAS, AV.0887 - AV.1146 - AV.1147 - AV.1148
Bought from Averbode Abbey, 1874

Suffering, dying and rising from the dead

In the centre of this altarpiece, those close to Christ are mourning his death, and above in miniature, we see Christ again, but alive and in the limbo of Hell. The side section to the left shows the crucifixion of Jesus and the side section to the right his rise from the dead, the core feature of the Christian faith. Below, each of the three women are depicting a virtue: Faith, Hope and Love. When the altarpiece is closed, you can see the tortured Christ being shown to the people on the left, and on the right, Jesus being offered a sweat cloth by Veronica.

The centrepiece is carved. The side sections and the support, known as a predella, are painted. On that support, to the right you can see the coat of arms of Gerard vander Scaeft, Abbott of Averbode Abbey when this work was made. To the left, Brother Nicolaas Huybs, the Abbey's doorkeeper, is kneeling. The Latin text on the banderole says that Huybs acquired this retable thanks to the proceeds from his beekeeping.

This altarpiece will soon leave for a long-term loan to the place for which it was made for: the Averbode Abbey. This long-term loan is an example of how the MAS wants to connect its collection with society.

The Averbode altarpiece - closed

See also

Masterpieces from the Governement of Flanders

Flanders possesses a magnificent collection of movable cultural heritage. With the 'Masterpieces Decree', the Flemish government wants to protect these unique cultural objects. Based on the decree, a list of rare and indispensable objects was compiled. Some of them are part of the MAS collection.

Subscribe to our newsletter