Rogier van der Weyden 1399/1400 – 1464

The Seven Sacraments

oil on panel (200 × 97 cm (central panel), 119 × 63 cm (wings)) — 1440-1445 Museum Royal Museum of Fine Arts, Antwerp

Rogier van der Weyden biography

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Rogier van der Weyden probably made this triptych in commission of Jean Chevrot, the bishop of Tournai. His coat of arms is in the spandrels of all three panels.

The work has two different subjects: the seven sacraments and the crucifixion. The sacraments are the scenes with angels hovering above them. They carry gilded scrolls. The crucifixion is in the center of the central panel.

Sacraments are important moments in the religious lives of catholics. For catholics, there are seven: from left to right baptism, confirmation, confession, the eucharist, ordination, matrimony and the anointing of the sick (the extreme unction, last rites).

Chevrot had himself portrayed as the bishop admininstering the confirmation, on the left panel.

Under the cross St. John the Evangelist catches the swooning Mary (detail). The other women are the other Marys: Magdalen, Bethany and the mother of James the Younger.

The scale of the figures is huge compared to the church, especially in the center panel. Perhaps Rogier choose the scale to make sure the figures would be visible from a distance.

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