Book Series Me Fecit, vol. 12

Harmony in Bright Colors. Memling’s God the Father with Singing and Music-Making Angels Restored

Lizet Klaassen, Dieter Lampens (eds)

  • Pages: 287 p.
  • Size:300 x 240 mm
  • Illustrations:30 b/w, 220 col.
  • Language(s):English
  • Publication Year:2021

  • ISBN: 978-2-503-58028-9
  • Hardback
  • Available

Includes a CD with a compilation of representative fifteenth-century musical pieces performed on reconstructed versions of the instruments shown in Memling’s panels.


“Taken in total, Harmony in Bright Colors: Memling’s God the Father with Singing and Music-Making Angels Restored is an important contribution to the study of Netherlandish painting and will be an essential source for future scholarship on this topic.” (Jessica Weiss, in Historians of Netherlandish Art Reviews, April 2022)

« Ce magnifique ouvrage très bien illustré est consacré à l’étude et à la restauration de trois panneaux représentant Dieu le Père et des anges chanteurs et musiciens réalisés par Memling (…). »  (A. Dubois, dans Scriptorium, 2022, p. 85)


Hans Memling’s God the Father with Singing and Music-making Angels formed the upper register of an enormous polyptych painted for the Benedictine monastery of Santa Maria la Real in Nájera, Spain. The three large panel paintings are undoubtedly among the most monumental works of early Netherlandish painting. Since 1895 they have belonged to the collection of the Royal Museum of Fine Arts Antwerp (KMSKA), where a team of conservators and scholars have devoted themselves in recent years to their complex conservation.

To mark the completion of this project, the KMSKA organized a symposium in March 2017 in cooperation with the University of Antwerp. This latest volume in the Me Fecit series publishes the contributions presented on that occasion. Their wide-ranging themes include the commissioning and iconography of the panels, their acquisition by the museum, the depicted vestments and what the work has to tell us about fifteenth-century musical practice. Close attention is paid to technical aspects such as the materials and the painting technique used for the panels, Memling’s underdrawing, the frames, and the conservation treatment – not least the oxalate-containing layer that posed the greatest challenge. There is a musical aspect to the project too: precise replicas have been made of the depicted instruments, which were then used to perform fifteenth-century compositions with playing techniques inferred from the paintings.

The book features contributions by Maryan Ainsworth, Wim Becu, Till-Holger Borchert, Bart Fransen, Ingrid Goddeeris, Catherine Higgitt, Lizet Klaassen, Louise Longneaux, Karel Moens, Lisa Monnas, Keith Polk, Marie Postec, Marika Spring and Geert Van der Snickt.


Elsje Janssen

Chapter 1
The Conservation and Restoration of Memling's God the Father with Singing and Music-Making Angels
Lizet Klaassen and Marie Postec

Chapter 2
Hans Memling’s Altarpiece for the Benedictine Abbey Church of Nájera
Bart Fransen and Louise Longneaux
Appendix: Libro Segundo de Censos, Nájera

Chapter 3
From Nájera to Antwerp: How Memling’s God the Father with Singing and Music-Making Angels Ended Up in Belgium
Ingrid Goddeeris

Chapter 4
Materials and Painting Technique of Memling’s Nájera Panels
Lizet Klaassen, Marie Postec, Geert Van der Snickt, Marika Spring

Chapter 5
The Frames and Framing of Memling’s Nájera Panels
Marie Postec and Lizet Klaassen

Chapter 6
Memling’s Preliminary Working Stages: The Nájera Panels in Context
Maryan W. Ainsworth
Appendix: Characterizing the Underdrawing Material in the Virgin and Child with Saints Catherine of Alexandria and Barbara
Sophie Scully and Silvia A. Centeno

Chapter 7
Memling’s Workshop
Till-Holger Borchert

Chapter 8
Memling's God the Father with Singing and Music-Making Angels: Oxalate Formation in Old Master Paintings
Catherine Higgitt

Chapter 9
Vestments and Textiles in Memling’s Nájera Panels in Context
Lisa Monnas

Chapter 10
Music and Musical Instruments in Memling's God the Father with Singing and Music-Making Angels
Karel Moens

Chapter 11
Memling and the Bruges Civic Ensemble circa 1480
Keith Polk

Chapter 12
The Musical Experience of the Nájera Panels. Paradisi porte : Memling’s Angelic Concert circa 1480
Wim Becu

Photographic Acknowledgments

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