Christ Giving His Blessing
Hans Memling (Netherlandish, c.1430/40-1494)
On View

Hans Memling was the leading painter in Bruges during the last quarter of the fifteenth century. His Christ Giving His Blessing recalls an iconographic type found in early Christian and Byzantine sacred icons, but echoes the later compositional types of Rogier van der Weyden, in whose workshop Memling presumably worked before settling in Bruges. Unlike the work of his predecessors, however, Memling's portrait of Christ is neither severe nor characterized by tragic pathos. In form and feeling, it presages Italian portraiture from the following decade: the search for clarity and order, the monumental effect achieved by filling the frame with Christ's head and shoulders, and the close-up view of the delicately modeled face against a neutral background. The gentle spirit and grace of the Redeemer, presented in fully human terms in this compelling devotional image, marks Memling’s debt to Rogier, but also his status as someone who transformed religious and portrait imagery throughout Europe from that point forward.


  • Artist Name: Hans Memling (Netherlandish, c.1430/40-1494)
  • Title: Christ Giving His Blessing
  • Date: 1478
  • Medium: Oil on oak panel
  • Dimensions: comp: 14-3/8 x 10-1/2 in. (36.5 x 26.7 cm); panel: 15-1/8 x 11-1/8 in. (38.4 x 28.3 cm)
  • Credit Line: Norton Simon Art Foundation, Gift of Mr. Norton Simon
  • Accession Number: M.1974.17.P
  • Copyright: © Norton Simon Art Foundation

Object Information

Don Manuel I, King of Portugal, Palacio das Necessidades, Lisbon, sold 1910 to;
[Duveen Brothers, London and New York, sold 1927 to];
Dr. and Mrs. A. Hamilton Rice, New York, sold 1957 to;
[M. Knoedler & Co., New York, jointly owned with Pinakos, Ltd., New York, stock no. A6680, as The Blessing Christ; sold 5 April 1964 to;
Norton Simon Art Foundation.

Exhibition of Flemish and Belgian Art, 1300-1900

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  • Morse, John D., Old Master Paintings in North America,1979, p. 197
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  • Masterpieces from the Norton Simon Museum,1989, p. 23
  • Campbell, Lorne, The Burlington Magazine, p. 265
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  • Kennedy, Trinita and Joan Nolan, A Divine Light: Northern Renaissance Paintings from Bob Jones University,2011, Fig. 52 p. 116
  • Longhi, Roberto, Scritti giovanili, p. 80
  • Dunkerton, Jill, Renaissance Venice and the North: Crosscurrents in the Time of Bellini, Durer and Titian, p. 98
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  • Lambotte, Paul, et al., Exhibition of Flemish and Belgian Art, 1300-1900,no. 62 p. 31
  • Detroit Institute of Arts, Flanders in the Fifteenth Century: Art and Civilization,no. 34 p. 154
  • Vaughan, Malcolm, International Studio, p. 40
  • Snow-Smith, Joanne, The Salvator Mundi of Leonardo da Vinci,fig. 76 p. 75
  • Campbell, Sara, Collector Without Walls: Norton Simon and His Hunt for the Best,2010, cat. 210 p. 271
  • Norton Simon Museum, Selected Paintings at the Norton Simon Museum,1980, p. 34
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  • Frankfurter, Alfred M., The Fine Arts, p. 22
  • De Vos, Dirk, Hans Memling,no. 10 pp. 17, 66-67, 106
  • Eric Denion, Sophie Denion, Frédéric Mouriaux, Guillaume Béraud, Sclerotic scatter and focusing in eye painting: light through darkness,2022, 1478 p. 9, pp. 237-243 (ill. supplemental materials)
  • Catalogue. The Loan Exhibition of Flemish & Belgian Art, Burlington House London 1927: A Memorial Volume,no. 62, pl. XXXIV p. 31
  • Philipart, G., Flemish Primitives,no. 13 opp. p. 48
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  • Vollmer, Hans, Allegemeines Lexikon der bildenden Kunstler, p. 375
  • Masterpieces of Art, New York's World's Fair,no. 252
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