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Mystical Marriage of Christ

2 stained-glass windows

The MAS collection contains a number of beautiful stained-glass windows from the 15th, 16th and 17th centuries. This was a period when more than 250 glass artists were active in Antwerp. Unfortunately, not much of the undoubtedly large production has survived in Antwerp. Two of the rare intact examples are in our collection and are listed as Flemish masterpieces. These are two rather large stained-glass windows from around 1600 depicting the Mystical Marriage of Christ.

The mystical marriage is a depiction of the religious union with God. Thereby, Christ is depicted as the bridegroom and mankind as the bride.

The design of the two stained-glass windows is based on engravings designed by Gerard van Groeningen and executed by Johannes Wierix in Philips Galle's studio in 1573.

We see on one stained-glass window a crowned bride kneeling before Christ, dressed as a king and crowned, i.e. the bridegroom. He blesses the bride who is surrounded by a number of female personifications of virtues: Science (Scientia), Faith (Fides), Hope (Spes) and Love (Caritas). In the background, we see a garden with a rose arch in the right corner.

On the second panel, the groom, Christ, embraces his kneeling bride. Again, the female personifications of the virtues Faith (Fides), Hope (Spes) and Love (Caritas) look on. The scene takes place in front of a rose arch in a garden.

The provenance of the panels is unclear. They are probably panels from Brabant, but we do not know from which church or monastery exactly.

Flemish masterpieces

Heritage objects are considered Flemish masterpieces if they are rare and indispensable.

These two stained-glass windows are unique in Flanders in both style and material, giving them an important calibration value.

They are important for our collective memory because they illustrate the production of medium-sized stained-glass windows in the Southern Netherlands around 1600.

Moreover, they are rare examples of the transition between the 16th- and 17th-century monumental glass painting style. Then, in our regions, this glass painting evolved from the so-called peinture en mosaique - that is painting with grisaille paints on coloured glass - to peinture en apprĂȘt - that is painting with coloured enamel paints, silver yellow and sanguine red on clear glass. As a result, these panels also have an important linking function.

The iconography, the depiction of Christ's mystical marriage, is special, as it is not very common, and is particularly beautifully executed.

Two stained glass windows depicting the Mystical Marriage of Christ

  • Maker: anonymous, after a print by Gerard van Groeningen (1550 - 1599)
  • Place and date: Duchy of Brabant, Antwerp?, ca. 1600
  • Material: stained glass
  • Dimensions: window 1: 119.6 x 133.7 cm; window 2: 123.4 x 133.8 cm
  • MAS collection: AV.2003.001.1-2 and AV.2003.001.2-2
  • Acknowledged as Flemish masterpiece: 2018

Other Masterpieces

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.

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