The Agony in the Garden with the Donor Louis d’Orléans, Colart de Laon? Egg tempera, 56.5 x 42 cm, 1405 -07 – 1408, Madrid, Museo Nacional del Prado

The presence of four holes for hinges on the lateral edges of the frame suggests that this painting may originally have been the central panel of a small triptych that would have had the coat-of-arms of the Duke of Orléans (and possibly that of his wife, Valentina Visconti) on the lateral panels. However, at the present time this suggestion cannot be proved.

The panel’s small size indicates that it may have been intended for a private devotional space rather than a public one such as a church or cathedral, perhaps for the chapel of one of the Duke’s residences. The fact that Louis d’Orléans is not accompanied by his wife or children, as would be expected if this were a single panel, must be for a particular reason. The subject of The Agony in the Garden and the inclusion of the opening words of the Psalm Miserere mei on the scroll that Louis holds are to be found in works of art with a funerary context. Such a context would explain why Louis is depicted without his wife or children. If this were the case, the panel would not have been commissioned by the Duke but by his wife or eldest son Charles d’Orléans. They commissioned the Duke’s tomb after he was murdered on the orders of John the Fearless in November 1407 and also retained in their service the artists who had worked for Louis.

 
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