Are you a Faithful Servant?

Beaune Altarpiece with the Last Judgment, Rogier Van der Weyden, 1445-50, Hospices de Beaune

Beaune Altarpiece with the Last Judgment, Rogier Van der Weyden, 1445-50, Hospices de Beaune

Jesus said to his disciples: 
“Be sure of this:
if the master of the house had known the hour
when the thief was coming,
he would not have let his house be broken into.
You also must be prepared,
for at an hour you do not expect, the Son of Man will come.”

Then Peter said,
“Lord, is this parable meant for us or for everyone?”
And the Lord replied,
“Who, then, is the faithful and prudent steward
whom the master will put in charge of his servants
to distribute the food allowance at the proper time?
Blessed is that servant whom his master on arrival finds doing so.
Truly, I say to you, he will put him
in charge of all his property.
But if that servant says to himself,
‘My master is delayed in coming,’
and begins to beat the menservants and the maidservants,
to eat and drink and get drunk,
then that servant’s master will come
on an unexpected day and at an unknown hour
and will punish the servant severely
and assign him a place with the unfaithful.
That servant who knew his master’s will
but did not make preparations nor act in accord with his will
shall be beaten severely;
and the servant who was ignorant of his master’s will
but acted in a way deserving of a severe beating
shall be beaten only lightly. 
Much will be required of the person entrusted with much,
and still more will be demanded of the person entrusted with more.”

Luke 12:39-48

The Last Judgment, Hans Memling, 1467-71, National Museum, Gdańsk, Poland

The Last Judgment, Hans Memling, 1467-71, National Museum, Gdańsk, Poland

 

Rogier Van Der Weyden is one of my favorite Northern Renaissance artists and his Beaune Altarpiece with the last judgment is a tour-de-force. It’s actually fifteen separate paintings on oak panels, some painted on both sides, assembled into a complex folding altarpiece, or polyptych. Here it is closed.

Beaune Altarpiece folded, Rogier Van der Weyden

Beaune Altarpiece folded, Rogier Van der Weyden

Here we see the donors who commissioned the work on the sides with angels. In the center are figures painted to look like like statues, a technique known as grisaille, with Sts. Sebastian and Anthony, and the Archangel Gabriel with the Virgin Mary above.

 

The opened Altarpiece measures an enormous 220cm x 548 cm, roughly 7 ft tall by 18 ft.wide! The scene of the last judgment shows Christ appearing in Glory, with the archangel Michael weighing souls. There’s a decent Wikipedia article about this masterpiece if you would like more information.

 

The other work is by Rogier’s student, Hans Memling, and may have been inspired by his master’s work. It is a triptych, with three panels.

 

Be sure to click on the paintings to see details.

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