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The Virgin in Prayer
Massys, Quinten (? Massys, Jan)
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Massys, Quinten (? Massys, Jan)

The Virgin in Prayer

Ca. 1529. Oil on oak panel. Room 057A

The position of the figures, looking at each other, is common for diptych paintings. However, we do not know if these were originally painted as pendants to each other. In 1597, this panel and Virgin Mary (P1562) were described in the Escorial as two “doors” of the same object. They may have been acquired as separate paintings and then hinged together as a diptych in the Royal Collection.

Some scholars questioned the authorship of the Virgin Mary painting attributing the work to Quentin Massys’ son, Jan, who worked in his workshop (see T. Posada Kubissa: "Cuadros de Quinten Massys y Jan Massys en el Museo del Prado. Actualización de las atribuciones", Boletín del Museo del Prado, XXXII, 50, 2014, pp. 96-109). The brushstrokes of both panels are, in fact, different as seen in the volume of the figures. However, technical study reveals the materials used are similar and the structure of inner layers is comparable in both works and the primer is similar in thickness, color and composition. At present little is known about Quentin´s workshop. The works of his son also present many problems of attribution. Due to the quality of this work, it seems prudent to maintain the attribution to the father until more is known about the production of his workshop and his son Jan.

Both panels have a similar reverse side, which mimics marble. The reverse of Christ the Savior includes the inscription: AN OPUS Quintini metsys. M D XXIX. The dendrochronological study indicates that the Virgin was painted after 1521. This date is compatible with the proposed dating of around 1529, which is based on the painting´s relationship with Christ the Savior (P1561), dated to that year.

Information updated by the Flemish and Northern European Paintings Department, Museo del Prado.


Technical data

Inventory number
Massys, Quinten (? Massys, Jan)
The Virgin in Prayer
Ca. 1529
Oak panel
Height: 44 cm.; Width: 35 cm.
Royal Collection (Given by Felipe II to the Real Monasterio de San Lorenzo, El Escorial-Madrid, en 1597; Real Monasterio de San Lorenzo, Camarin, Descripción del Padre Jimenez, 1764; Real Monasterio de San Lorenzo, Camarin, Descripción de D. Bermejo, 1820,s.n.; Museo Real de Pinturas, Madrid, 1837)

Bibliography +

Sánchez Cantón, F.J, Notas sobre Quentin Massys en la Península, Archivo Español de Arte / Archivo Español de Arte y Arqueología, 17, 1944, pp. láms.11,12.

Broadly, H.T., The Mature Style of Quentin Massys (Tesis doctoral), New York University, New York, 1961.

Friedläender, Max J., Quentin Massys, Praeger Publishers, Westport, 1971.

Silver, Larry, The Paintings of Quinten Massys: with catalogue raisonné, Phaidon, Oxford, 1984, pp. 81-82.

Checa Cremades, Fernando, Felipe II: mecenas de las artes, Nerea, Madrid, 1992, pp. 414.

Checa Cremades, F, Un príncipe del Renacimiento: Felipe II, un monarca y su ép..., Sociedad Estatal para la Commemoración de los cent..., Madrid, 1998, pp. 354.

Hand, John Oliver, Metzger, Catherine A. y Spronk, Ron, Prayers and portraits: Unfolding the Netherlandish diptych, National Gallery of Art, Washington, 2006, pp. 104-109.

Van Hotu, Nico, Les primitifs flamands : les plus beaux diptyques, Koninklijk Museum voor Schone Kunsten Antwerp, 2007, pp. 34, nº 5.

García-Frías Checa, Carmen, 'De la grandeza y variedad de la pintura que hay en esta casa' La colección pictórica de Felipe II en El Monasterio de El Escorialo, De El Bosco a Tiziano: arte y maravilla en El Escorial, Patrimonio Nacional, Madrid, 2013, pp. 35-51 [42].

Posada Kubissa, Teresa, Cuadros de Quinten Massys y Jan Massys en el Museo del Prado. Actualización de las atribuciones, Boletín del Museo del Prado, XXXII (50), 2014, pp. 96-109.

Míngez,V. Rodríguez, I, Las enseñanzas de Andrea Alciato en la corte de Venecia. Una tabla de la colección Barbosa-Stern atribuida a Jan Massys, Anales del Instituto de Investigaciones Estéticas, 106 Primavera, 2015, pp. 53-74 [67].

Other inventories +

Inv. Real Museo, 1857. Núm. 424.
Metsys (Quintin) / 424. Nuestra Señora (Busto con las manos unidas) (E.) / TABLA.) / Alto 1 pie, 7 pulg; ancho 1 pie, 3 pulg, 2 lin.

Catálogo Museo del Prado, 1872-1907. Núm. 1445.

Exhibitions +

Prayers and Portraits: Unfolding the Netherlandish Dyptych
03.03.2007 - 27.05.2007

Prayers and Portraits: Unfolding the Netherlandish Dyptych
Washington D.C.
12.11.2006 - 04.02.2007

Location +

Room 057A (On Display)

Update date: 29-09-2020 | Registry created on 28-04-2015

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