Bernard van Orley: The triptych of the Masons and Carpenters guild (1510-1520)

(Kunsthistorisches Museum Wien, Vienna, Austria)

An altarpiece by the  Flemish artist Bernard van Orley (1487/91-1541). This triptych (both the wings are in another museum) was commissioned by the Guild of Masons and Carpenters of Brussels for an altar in the Notre Dame de Sablon in Brussels. The subject of the triptych were the lives of the patron saints of the guild: saint Thomas and saint Matthias. The right side of the painting is dedicated to saint Mattthias. After the Ascension of Christ, the Apostles cast lots to choose a successor to Judas Iscariot, following Judas' betrayal of Jesus. Matthias eventually was selected to replace Judas. This scene is shown in the large structure on the right (Matthias is the one with the circle of light above him). The left side of the painting is dedicated to saint Thomas. According to legend, Christ appaered to saint Thomas and ordered him to go to India to proclaim the Word. Eventually Thomas was killed by an Indian high priest who was beside himself with a sword. This is the central scene on the left.