Rogier van der Weyden: The Altarpiece of the Seven Sacraments (1445-1450)

(Royal Museum of Fine Arts, Antwerp, Belgium)

A beautiful altarpiece by the Flemish artist Rogier van der Weyden (1399-1464) which depicts the seven sacraments of Roman Catholic church (a sacrament is a rite of particular importance and significance, each rite signify God's grace in a way that is outwardly observable to the participant). The 7 sacraments are (they are divided in three groups):

The sacraments of admission and adoption:
- Sacrament of Baptism
- Sacrament of Confirmation / Chrismation
- Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist/Holy Communion
The sacraments of service :
- Sacrament of Holy Orders
- Sacrament of Matrimony
The sacraments of healing:
- Sacrament of Penance
- Sacrament of Extremeunction or Anointing of the Sick

On the painting these sacraments are grouped around a crucifixion in the central panel. On the left panel the sacraments of baptism, confirmation and confession. On the right panel the sacraments of the ordination of a priest, marriage and the last rites are visibile while in the background of the central panel the sacrament of the Eucharist is depicted. In the corners of the side panels there are also two coat-of-arms visible: that of the city of Doornik and of the bishop Jean Chevrot, also from doornik. Because of this is is likely that Jean Chevrot was the person who commissioned this painting for an unknown location. Painting from 1445-1450.

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