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Flower Still-life
c. 1490
Oil on oak panel, 29,2 x 22,5 cm
Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza, Madrid

By Hans Memling (b. ca. 1440, Seligenstadt, d. 1494, Bruges)

The still-life is on the back of a panel representing the portrait of a young man. The panel is the left wing of a triptych.

The reverse of the portrait is an exquisite still-life. A small Italian majolica vase stands on a Mughan rug in a niche. It holds a bouquet of lilies, irises and columbines, symbolising Mary's virginity, her suffering and Christ's birth and death. The vase also bears Christ's monogram. This flower piece not only argues in favour of a central panel depicting a Virgin and Child, it must also be viewed as a kind of emblem of the donor's personal Christian vocation.