George van Egmond, 1526-1534
Unknown (Flemish - 16th century)
oil on oak
105 x 89.5 cm
Gift of H.S. Southam, Ottawa, 1930
National Gallery of Canada (no. 3701)
Egmond (1504-1559) was to become bishop of Utrecht and an important patron of the arts. This picture dates to early in his career when he was a canon of Liège cathedral. His gaze is fixed on something outside of the picture, suggesting that this may be the left wing of a diptych. The missing panel likely would have shown a Virgin and Child. Technical examination reveals that the artist made substantial changes during painting. The panel was enlarged and the background redesigned. The initial plan included an arcade parallel to the picture's surface; he later added a row of marble columns, creating a sense of sharply receding space. The changes may well be due to Egmond. Patrons were often actively involved, and artists had to be willing to adapt.