Rogier van der Weyden: Portrait of a tournament judge (1450)


(Royal Museum of Fine Arts, Antwerp, Belgium)

A painting by the Flemish artist Rogier van der Weyden (1400-1464). A man, dressed in sober but wealthy clothes, is shown here. He is holding a dagger and an oversized arrow in his hands - a sign that this man is a tournament judge (although the arrow is sometimes used by others as a sign of authority). In the upper left corner is a clock with two lines of Latin text on the scrolls: "Hora est iam nos de su pno surgere. Ad Romaei Paulus. Quia novissima hora est. Epist Johis" - "it is already the hour for you to awaken from sleep (Romans 13:11)", "it is the last time (John 2:18)". These two lines and the clock are a memento mori (Latin for 'remember that you have to die') - it calls the viewer to reflect on ones own mortality. The identity of the depicted man in unknown but the name of Jean Lefèvre de Saint-Remy (1394-1468), the first King of Arms to the Order of the Golden Fleece, has been suggested. Painting from 1450.

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