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Petrus Christus - A Goldsmith in His Shop [1449] | by Gandalf's Gallery
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Petrus Christus - A Goldsmith in His Shop [1449]

Justly celebrated as one of the most famous masterpieces of Northern Renaissance art, this work shows a goldsmith in a tiny shop outfitted with the finely wrought civic, secular, and ecclesiastic wares of his trade, displayed on the shelves at the right. Commissioned by the goldsmith's guild of Bruges, the painting is a virtual advertisement of its services. The main figure may be Saint Eligius, patron saint of goldsmiths, as traditionally believed, or a realistic depiction, perhaps even a portrait, of an actual goldsmith in fifteenth-century Bruges.

 

Standing in the goldsmith's shop is an aristocratic young couple in sumptuous garb buying a wedding ring that is being weighed on a small handheld scale. An elaborately displayed sash or girdle, a further reference to matrimony, extends over the open ledge of the shop into the space of the viewer. The convex mirror at the right, which reflects the market square beyond the counter, is an even bolder illusionistic device linking the pictorial space to that of the viewer. Seen in the mirror are two dandified male figures, one of whom holds a falcon.

 

[Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York - Oil on oak panel, painted surface 98 x 85.2 cm]

 

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Taken on December 19, 2012