St Luke painting the Madonna
Maerten van Heemskerck
Luke the Evangelist was for centuries considered to be the patron saint of painters and their guilds. Medieval legend has it that he had, after all, portrayed none other than the Virgin Mary and baby Jesus. Many painters honored him with a portrait or imaginary portrait. A man stands behind Luke who, according to a contemporary explanation, represents the ‘poetic inspiration’, the artistic imagination: he guides the painter’s hand with his right hand.
The ‘cartellino’ pinned to the bottom left hand corner of the painting with its clear trompe l’oeil effect, states (transcribed into modern Dutch): “This painting has been presented as a memento by Maerten van Heemskerck, who made it. He did this in honor of Saint Luke; he also thought of us, his guild.” The painting was presented as a gift by Van Heemskerck (Heemskerk 1498 – Haarlem 1574) to his guild, most likely just before making a journey to Rome, and probably intended to be hung in the guild chapel of the Sint-Bavo church on the main market square in Haarlem. In view of the strikingly low viewpoint – the painting should be viewed from below – it must have been designed for a high position, for example, as an altarpiece or to be hung from a pillar.
- schilder: Maerten van Heemskerck
- Date of creation
- Object type
- easel paintings (paintings by form)
- Paintings from the Frans Hals Museum
- OS-I-134 (schilderij), Kunstwerken uit het Frans Hals Museum, Haarlem
- for information contact: Frans Hals Museum