Devotio Moderna, or Modern Devotion, was a movement for religious reform, calling for apostolic renewal through the rediscovery of genuine pious practices such as humility, obedience, and simplicity of life. It began in the late fourteenth-century, largely through the work of Gerard Groote, and flourished in the Low Countries and Germany in the fifteenth century, but came to an end with the Protestant Reformation. It is most known today through its influence on Thomas à Kempis, the author of The Imitation of Christ, a book which proved highly influential for centuries.
The origins of the movement probably go back to the Congregation of Windesheim, though it has so far proved elusive to locate the precise origin of the movement. Broadly, it may be seen to rise out of a widespread dissatisfaction with the state of the church (both in terms of the structure of the church and the personal lives of the clergy) in fourteenth-century Europe. Geert Groote (1340-1384) was among many in being highly dissatisfied with the state of the Church and what he perceived as the gradual loss of monastic traditions and the lack of moral values among the clergy, and he sought to rediscover genuine pious practices.
Devotio Moderna began as a lay movement – around 1374 Groote established his parental house in Deventer into a hostel for poor women who wished to serve God. Though similar to beguine houses, this hostel, and later communities of what came to be called the “Sisters of the Common Life”, were freer in structure than the beguines and kept no private property. The women who lived in these houses remained, also, under the jurisdiction of city authorities and parish priests. Their way of life therefore sat somewhere between ordinary Christian existence ‘in the world’, and the formation of an ecclesiastically recognised religious order.
From this point, a number of different loose forms of community emerged. On the one hand, various forms of life for the female Devout were formed. Especially from the 1390s under the leadership of John Brinckerinck, one of Grote’s early converts, the Sisters of the Common Life spread across the Netherlands and into Germany (with eventually about 25 houses in the former, and about 60 houses in the latter). There were also, however, many houses (mostly small and poor) inspired by the movement that were never formally attached to the Sisters of the Common Life, and may eventually have become Third Order Franciscans or Augustinian nuns.
Among male followers, the movement was given impetus after Groote’s death in 1384 by Florens Radewyns (who had become a priest based on Groote's advice). He gathered like-minded laity and clergy into houses of communal living, eventually known as the Brethren of the Common Life, which numbered 41 by the early sixteenth century. The majority of members in these communities were priests or candidates for the priesthood (clerics); the few lay brothers, the familiares, usually carried out the menial tasks of cooking, cleaning and tailoring. These communities did not take vows, but led an austere life of penance, prayer, spiritual reading and work, most often the copying of manuscripts. In addition, the Brethren provided pastoral care and spiritual counsel to the sister houses, and at least some of the Brethren engaged in preaching.
Groote’s message of reform had also been aimed at clerics and priests, some of whom had joined the Brethren. In addition, though, under the leadership of Radewyns, in 1387 some members of the Deventer house set up a new community at Windesheim, near Zwolle, and adopted the habit and rule of St Augustine. Although living a cloistered life under vows, the new community kept many of the practices and spiritual values of the teaching of Groote and Radewyns. From 1395, a monastic union was set up around Windesheim; this new confederation grew quickly, and was joined both by older Augustinian communities (including, famously, Groenendaal in 1413), as well as new foundations, and sometimes the conversion of some of the houses of Brothers to this new form of religious life. By the end of the fifteenth century, there were almost 100 houses (84 of them male) in the Chapter of Windesheim.
The movement faced opposition from clergy and laity at times, both during its early years under Groote’s leadership, and under Radewyns’ later expansion. Much of this suspicion was similar to that directed at other new forms of religious devotion developed in the period, such as beguine and beghard movements. In addition, though, the strong resemblance to monastic life of the daily routine among the Brethren provoked accusations from the mendicant orders that the Brethren and Sisters of the Common Life were starting a new mendicant order, in violation of the Fourth Lateran Council's prohibition of new orders in 1215, and without taking vows. The simplicity and devotion of the Devotio Moderna, though, seems to have lessened the force of many of these criticisms.
It was especially prominent in cities in the Low Countries during the 14th and 15th centuries. Alongside its immediate impact, however, it was the writings of authors associated with the movement (who were most commonly based in the monasteries associated with Windesheim), that gave the Devotio Moderna its wider European influence at the time, and its great subsequent influence.
In the wake of the Protestant Reformation, the institutions of the Devotio Moderna declined rapidly. In Protestant territories, both the brotherhouses and the monasteries were dissolved, and most of the houses of the Brethren, including the founding houses of Deventer and Zwolle, had disappeared by 1600. In Roman Catholic areas, some of the brotherhouses and houses of the Windesheim Congregation survived until they fell victim to the secularisations of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. The most important members of the Windesheim Congregation in Germany, St. Marienwolde in Frenswegen, held out until 1809, when it was officially dissolved by the state. The last canon, Gerhard Tobbe, left Frenswegen in 1815.
The Imitation of Christ (c. 1418), often attributed to Thomas à Kempis (d. 1471), a Brother of the Common Life, outlines the concepts of Modern Devotion, based on personal connection to God and the active showing of love towards Him (e.g., in the Blessed Sacrament of the altar or during mass). It influenced a number of Saints such as Thérèse of Lisieux and Ignatius of Loyola.
By the late 15th century the advent of the printing press increased the reach of the movement; The Imitation of Christ was printed in several languages by the end of the century.
The spiritual life of the Devotio Moderna followers was marked by focus on inner devotions and frequent short periods of meditation, specially before each new activity.
The writings of the Devotio Moderna followers such as Gerard of Zutphen and Jan Mombaer, as well as Groote introduced the tradition of "methodical prayer" which arranged exercises day by day and week by week. Groote's On four Kinds of Matter for Meditation included mental imagery, as well as methodical approaches as an element of meditation.
Centuries earlier, Hugh of Saint Victor and Guigo II had produced structured methods for Christian meditation, but their approaches were less systematic. The methodical approach of Devotio Moderns towards prayer and meditation found significant following within the Catholic Church, as well as later Reformed communities. The manuals for methodical prayer and meditation by Florens Radewyns and Zutphen had significant influence within Europe for over a century.
The concept of immersing and projecting oneself into a Biblical scene about the life of Jesus was developed by Ludolph of Saxony in his Vita Christi in 1374 and became popular among the Devotio Moderna community. The methods of methodical prayer as taught by the Devotio Moderna entered Spain and were known in the early 16th century, and influenced the approaches to Christian meditation.
Garcias de Cisneros the abbot of the abbey of Montserrat was influenced by the Devotio Moderna and his book Ejercitatorio de la vida spiritual, i.e. "exercises for the spiritual life" became one of the primary sources for the Spiritual Exercises of Ignatius of Loyola. Ignatius used both of these techniques in his Spiritual exercises: a methodical format, as well as self-projection into a Biblical scene, e.g. starting a conversation with Christ in Calvary. Also influenced by the Devotio Moderna were Ludovico Barbo, Lawrence Giustiniani and the Canons Regular of San Giorgio in Alga.
However, the methods of "methodical prayer" taught by the Devotio Moderna and the techniques used for "self projection" into the imagery of a Biblical scene (to participate in the life of Jesus), significantly influenced the approaches to Christian meditation in the 16th century and thereafter. These methods persist in meditations such as the Spiritual Exercises, which the Jesuits continue to practice.
Devotio Moderna arose at the same time as Christian Humanism, a meshing of Renaissance Humanism and Christianity, and is related to German mysticism and other movements which promoted an intense personal relationship with God. Practitioners of the Devotio Moderna emphasized the inner life of the individual and promoted meditation according to certain strictures. With the ideals of Christian Humanism, Devotio Moderna recommended a more individual attitude towards belief and religion. It is regarded sometimes as a contributing factor for Lutheranism and Calvinism. It was also a major influence upon Erasmus, who was brought up in this tradition.
Adoration of the Shepherds is a late oil painting by Hugo van der Goes, now in the Gemäldegalerie, Berlin. Unusually large for the painter, it is less well-known than his Portinari Triptych or his Monforte Altarpiece on the same subject. He produced it before renouncing his worldly life and becoming a lay brother at Rouge-Cloître Abbey near Brussels, a daughter house of the Windesheim Congregation in the strict tradition of the Brethren of the Common Life, part of the wider devotio moderna movement.
The scene is flanked by two prophets from the Hebrew scriptures, shown half-length and holding up a green curtain, which they part to show the scene. Standing in front of the scene, they act as intermediaries between it and the viewer, with the right-hand one with his hand and mouth open as if to speak.(Belting 2005, p. 218) As Hans Belting puts it,(Belting 2005, p. 203) "it is indeed a scene in the theatrical sense, as we see the curatins opening on the stable in Bethlehem as if the play is about to begin". The scene itself includes three shepherds as well as a background scene showing the angels announcing Christ's birth to them. The Christ Child looks out at the viewer and behind him, Mary and Joseph is a group of angels.(Belting 2005, p. 212)Alijt Bake
Alijt Bake (d. 1455) was a religious woman who was prioress of the Galilea convent in Ghent, Belgium. Among her writings are a spiritual autobiography containing accounts of encounters with Christ.
Bake joined the Galilea convent in 1438. The Augustinian convent had been founded in 1431, and joined the Congregation of Windesheim in 1438. When she joined she was 23 and already experienced enough to have run-ins with the prioress, Hilde Sonterlants, whom she referred to as "Mater Hildegont". She took her vows in 1440, and when Sonterlants died, in 1445, Bake was elected to succeed her.Bake's first challenge was how to reinvigorate and reform the convent life. She considered joining the Bethlehem convent in Ghent, which belonged to the Poor Clares and had flourished under the leadership of Coleta von Corbie, but in the end decided to stay and attempt to renew life at Galilea.The leadership of her congregation deposed and banished her in 1455.Her De vier kruiswegen, one of many women's texts produced during the Devotio Moderna movement, proposes an Imitatio Christi; the intellect, in the form of believer's soul, will be united with God, while nature, as the believer's body, will be united with the body of Christ.Her autobiography is held in the State Archive of Ghent.Andachtsbilder
Andachtsbilder (singular Andachtsbild, German for devotional image) is a German term often used in English in art history for Christian devotional images designed as aids for prayer or contemplation. The images "generally show holy figures extracted from a narrative context to form a highly focused, and often very emotionally powerful, vignette". The term is especially used of Northern Gothic art around the 14th and 15th centuries, when new subjects such as the Pietà, Pensive Christ, Man of Sorrows, Arma Christi, Veil of Veronica, the severed head of John the Baptist, and the Virgin of Sorrows became extremely popular.The term was first devised for a group of mainly sculptural subjects, including the Pietà and Pensive Christ, that were thought to have emerged in convents in south-western Germany in the 14th century, although their history is now believed to be more complicated. In churches such images were often given a side-chapel, and sometimes are given special places in the rituals of Holy Week. For example, consecrated hosts might be stored in the cavity of the spear wound in a sculpted Pietà between Good Friday and Easter Sunday.Traditional subjects from the narrative of the Passion of Christ such as the Ecce Homo and the Crucifixion of Jesus were also treated in the same way. Though the Crucifix had been treated as an intense, isolated image for centuries, at least as far back as the 10th century Gero Cross in Cologne, many images showed a new emphasis on graphically depicted streaming blood, wounds and contorted poses. This process started around 1300, so the influence appears to be from the Crucifixion to other subjects. The traditional Ecce Homo is a very crowded scene, in which the figure of Christ is often less prominent than those of his captors, but in the andachtsbilder versions the other figures and complex architectural background have vanished, leaving only Christ, with a plain background in most painted versions (see the example by Antonello da Messina in the gallery below).
Andachtsbilder have a strong emphasis on the grief and suffering of Christ and the figures close to him. Their use was encouraged by movements such as the Franciscans, the Devotio Moderna and German mysticism in late medieval Europe, which promoted meditation on the sufferings of Christ by intense mental visualization ("imitation") of them and their physical effects. The most extreme, even gruesome, examples often came from the eastern edge of the Holy Roman Empire and beyond in Poland, Lithuania and the Baltic states, where large carved gobbets of congealed blood can cover the body. But the style spread all over Europe, including Italy, although the extremes of emotionalism were avoided there until the Baroque.
The term is often used specifically for small works intended for personal contemplation in the home. By the 15th century the emerging urban middle classes of Northern Europe were increasingly able to afford small paintings or carvings. The depiction was often very "close-up", with a half-length figure occupying nearly the whole picture space. Andachtsbilder subjects were also very common in prints. However larger works for churches or outdoor display are also covered by the term. By the mid-15th century andachtsbilder were influencing large monumental works, a process James Snyder discusses in relation to major works such as Rogier van der Weyden's Prado Deposition, the Isenheim Altarpiece of Matthias Grünewald and the carved Altarpiece of the Holy Blood by Tilman Riemenschneider at Rothenburg ob der Tauber. The Mass of St Gregory, which included a vision of the Man of Sorrows, was a composition often used on altarpieces which took a common andachtsbilder subject and expanded it into a subject suitable for more monumental works.
The art historian Jeffrey F. Hamburger observed that the term has now "lost whatever precision it could ever lay claim to, having been applied to virtually any object that might have been used to stimulate devotional experience". Although works in the andachtsbilder tradition remained very popular in Catholic art for centuries, for example in Baroque Spain and Italy, the term is less likely to be applied to much later images. The English term "devotional image" or "picture" etc. can apply to a wide range of images, in all media, included modern commercially printed reproductions or prayer cards, especially those featuring a portrait-like image rather than a narrative scene.Brethren of the Common Life
The Brethren of the Common Life (Latin: Fratres Vitae Communis, FVC) was a Roman Catholic pietist religious community founded in the Netherlands in the 14th century by Gerard Groote, formerly a successful and worldly educator who had had a religious experience and preached a life of simple devotion to Jesus Christ. Without taking up irrevocable vows, the Brethren banded together in communities, giving up their worldly goods to live chaste and strictly regulated lives in common houses, devoting every waking hour to attending divine service, reading and preaching of sermons, labouring productively, and taking meals in common that were accompanied by the reading aloud of Scripture: "judged from the ascetic discipline and intention of this life, it had few features which distinguished it from life in a monastery", observes Hans Baron.Desert Fathers
The Desert Fathers (along with Desert Mothers) were early Christian hermits, ascetics, and monks who lived mainly in the Scetes desert of Egypt beginning around the third century AD. The Apophthegmata Patrum is a collection of the wisdom of some of the early desert monks and nuns, in print as Sayings of the Desert Fathers. The most well known was Anthony the Great, who moved to the desert in AD 270–271 and became known as both the father and founder of desert monasticism. By the time Anthony died in AD 356, thousands of monks and nuns had been drawn to living in the desert following Anthony's example—his biographer, Athanasius of Alexandria, wrote that "the desert had become a city." The Desert Fathers had a major influence on the development of Christianity.
The desert monastic communities that grew out of the informal gathering of hermit monks became the model for Christian monasticism. The eastern monastic tradition at Mount Athos and the western Rule of Saint Benedict both were strongly influenced by the traditions that began in the desert. All of the monastic revivals of the Middle Ages looked to the desert for inspiration and guidance. Much of Eastern Christian spirituality, including the Hesychast movement, had its roots in the practices of the Desert Fathers. Even religious renewals such as the German evangelicals and Pietists in Pennsylvania, the Devotio Moderna movement, and the Methodist Revival in England are seen by modern scholars as being influenced by the Desert Fathers.Devotio
For the late medieval religious movement, see Devotio Moderna. See also Devotion (disambiguation).In ancient Roman religion, the devotio was an extreme form of votum in which a Roman general vowed to sacrifice his own life in battle along with the enemy to chthonic gods in exchange for a victory. The most extended description of the ritual is given by the Augustan historian Livy, regarding the self-sacrifice of Decius Mus. The English word "devotion" derives from the Latin.
Devotio may be a form of consecratio, a ritual by means of which something was consecrated to the gods. The devotio has sometimes been interpreted in light of human sacrifice in ancient Rome, and Walter Burkert saw it as a form of scapegoat or pharmakos ritual. By the 1st century BC, devotio could mean more generally "any prayer or ritual that consigned some person or thing to the gods of the underworld for destruction."Garcias de Cisneros
Garcias de Cisneros (1455–1510) (also Garcia de Cisneros) was the abbot at the abbey of Montserrat in Spain.As one of the early Spanish mystics, he was a pioneer in the use of meditative techniques, having been influenced both by the methodical prayers of the Devotio Moderna group, and the writings of Louis Barbo.His book Ejercitatorio de la vida espiritual, i.e. "exercises for the spiritual life" was published at Montserrat in 1500 and was an important book on formal prayer and Christian meditation which influenced Saint Ignatius of Loyola, becoming one of the primary sources for his Spiritual exercises.Geert Groote
Gerard Groote (October 1340 – 20 August 1384), otherwise Gerrit or Gerhard Groet, in Latin Gerardus Magnus, was a Dutch Roman Catholic deacon, who was a popular preacher and the founder of the Brethren of the Common Life. He was a key figure in the Devotio Moderna movement.Hendrik Mande
Hendrik Mande (1350-60 – 1431) was a Dutch mystical writer, an early member of the Brethren of the Common Life, and an Augustinian Canon.Jan Mombaer
Jan Mombaer also known as Johannes Mauburnus and as Johannes von Brüssel (1460, Brussels – 1501 Paris) was a Christian monk who composed hymns and was part of the devotio moderna movement.
He studied at the congregation of Augustinians in Utrecht and around 1477 entered the Congregation of Windesheim. Mombaer developed a structured method of organizing seemingly haphazard glances at the Bible to form consistent thoughts for a hymn. His work was also treasured by Martin Luther. As an Augustinian monk, Luther used Mauburnus' morning prayer upon rising. Later he used that prayer in crafting what many today know as "Luther's Morning Prayer" found in Luther's Small Catechism. Mombaer is best known for his Rosetum exercitiorum spiritualium et sacrarum meditationum (Rose-garden of spiritual exercises and sacred meditations) mentioned by Loyola as an influence on his own spiritual exercises.John Van Engen
John H. Van Engen is an American historian, and Andrew V. Tackes Professor of Medieval History, at the University of Notre Dame.Ludolph of Saxony
Ludolph of Saxony (c. 1295 – 1378), also known as Ludolphus de Saxonia and Ludolph the Carthusian, was a German Roman Catholic theologian of the fourteenth century.
His principal work, first printed in the 1470s, was the Vita Christi (Life of Christ). It had significant influence on the development of techniques for Christian meditation by introducing the concept of immersing and projecting oneself into a Biblical scene about the life of Jesus which became popular among the Devotio Moderna community, and later influenced Ignatius of Loyola.Manuscript culture
Manuscript culture uses manuscripts to store and disseminate information; in the West, it generally preceded the age of printing. In early manuscript culture, monks copied manuscripts by hand. They copied not just religious works, but a variety of texts including some on astronomy, herbals, and bestiaries. Medieval manuscript culture deals with the transition of the manuscript from the monasteries to the market in the cities, and the rise of universities. Manuscript culture in the cities created jobs built around the making and trade of manuscripts, and typically was regulated by universities. Late manuscript culture was characterized by a desire for uniformity, well-ordered and convenient access to the text contained in the manuscript, and ease of reading aloud. This culture grew out of the Fourth Lateran Council (1215) and the rise of the Devotio Moderna. It included a change in materials (switching from vellum to paper), and was subject to remediation by the printed book, while also influencing it.Nativity (Christus)
The Nativity is a devotional mid-1450s oil-on-wood panel painting by the Early Netherlandish painter Petrus Christus. It shows a nativity scene with grisaille archways and trompe-l'œil sculptured reliefs. Christus was influenced by the first generation of Netherlandish artists, especially Jan van Eyck and Rogier van der Weyden, and the panel is characteristic of the simplicity and naturalism of art of that period. Placing archways as a framing device is a typical van der Weyden device, and here likely borrowed from that artist's Altar of Saint John and Miraflores Altarpiece. Yet Christus adapts these painterly motifs to a uniquely mid-15th century sensibility, and the unusually large panel – perhaps painted as a central altarpiece panel for a triptych – is nuanced and visually complex. It shows his usual harmonious composition and employment of one-point-perspective, especially evident in the geometric forms of the shed's roof, and his bold use of color. It is one of Christus's most important works. Max Friedländer definitely attributed the panel to Christus in 1930, concluding that "in scope and importance, [it] is superior to all other known creations of this master."The overall atmosphere is one of simplicity, serenity and understated sophistication. It is reflective of the 14th-century Devotio Moderna movement, and contains complex Christian symbolism, subtly juxtaposing Old and New Testament iconography. The sculpted figures in the archway depict biblical scenes of sin and punishment, signaling the advent of Christ's sacrifice, with an over-reaching message of the "Fall and Redemption of humankind". Inside the archway, surrounded by four angels, is the Holy Family; beyond, a landscape extends into the far background.
Art historians have suggested completion dates ranging from the early 1440s to the early 1460s, with c. 1455 seen as probable. The panel was acquired by Andrew Mellon in the 1930s, and was one of several hundreds from his personal collection donated to the National Gallery of Art in Washington. It has suffered damage and was restored in the early 1990s for an exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.School of Saint Victor
The school of St Victor was the medieval monastic school at the Augustinian abbey of St Victor in Paris. The name also refers to the Victorines, the group of philosophers and mystics based at this school as part of the University of Paris.It was founded in the twelfth century by Peter Abelard's tutor and subsequent opponent, the realist school master William of Champeaux, and a prominent early member of their community was Hugh of St Victor. Other prominent members were Achard of St. Victor, Andrew of St Victor, Richard of St Victor, Walter of St Victor and Godfrey of St Victor, as well as Thomas Gallus.
Under the rigorous supervision of Hugh, St Victor offered a coherent and structured approach to learning through the cultivation of personal virtue rather than the requisition of knowledge for its own sake. This is exemplified in the schema for the liberal arts laid out in Hugh's Didascalicon, in which he exhorts the reader to Omnia Disce, or to know all. By 1160, the abbey had become a place of retreat from the schools, echoing the original act of weary retirement enacted by William of Champeaux at its founding. By the time of Godfrey, St Victor was primarily concerned with the instruction of its own canons, rather than the emphasis on the extern school operated earlier in the twelfth century.The end of the Victorines as a unique force came by 1173, when the reactionary Walter was appointed as prior. Walter launched a furious attack upon the intellectual culture of the school and its members with his Contra quatuor labyrinthos Francae (Against the Four Labyrinths of France), a denunciation of secular theological teaching. After this violent repudiation of Victorine pedagogical tradition the abbey was, in effect, a self-contained Augustinian priory like any other.Jan van Ruusbroec submitted his Groenendael Priory to their Rule in 1335, from which stemmed the Brethren of the Common Life and Thomas à Kempis' Devotio Moderna. A major theme of their studies was the anagogical relationship between the Divine and the Mundane, adopted by Pope Eugene IV in his 5.1.1435 bull declaring Roman supremacy.Sol de Fátima
Sol de Fátima is a Spanish-language Catholic devotional magazine published by the Blue Army of Our Lady and is devoted to the message of Our Lady of Fátima.The Imitation of Christ
The Imitation of Christ (Latin: De Imitatione Christi) by Thomas à Kempis is a Christian devotional book. It was first composed in Latin ca. 1418–1427. It is a handbook for spiritual life arising from the Devotio Moderna movement, of which Kempis was a member.The Imitation is perhaps the most widely read Christian devotional work next to the Bible, and is regarded as a devotional and religious classic. Its popularity was immediate, and it was printed 745 times before 1650. Apart from the Bible, no book had been translated into more languages than the Imitation of Christ at the time.The text is divided into four books, which provide detailed spiritual instructions: "Helpful Counsels of the Spiritual Life", "Directives for the Interior Life", "On Interior Consolation" and "On the Blessed Sacrament".
The approach taken in the Imitation is characterized by its emphasis on the interior life and withdrawal from the world, as opposed to an active imitation of Christ by other friars. The book places a high level of emphasis on the devotion to the Eucharist as key element of spiritual life.Thomas à Kempis
Thomas à Kempis, CRSA (c. 1380 – 25 July 1471), was a German-Dutch canon regular of the late medieval period and the author of The Imitation of Christ, one of the most popular and best known Christian devotional books. His name means Thomas "of Kempen", his home town, and in German he is known as Thomas von Kempen (in Dutch, Thomas van Kempen).He was a member of the Modern Devotion, a spiritual movement during the late medieval period, and a follower of Geert Groote and Florens Radewyns, the founders of the Brethren of the Common Life.Třeboň Altarpiece
The Třeboň or Wittingau Altarpiece is a now dismantled retable altarpiece commissioned for the Augustinian Canons church of St. Aegidius, Trebon. It was completed c 1380-1390 by the unidentified Bohemian painter known by the notname Master of the Třeboň Altarpiece or Master of Wittingau; one of the most important gothic artists of the international style.The altarpiece depicts events around the death and resurrection of Christ. It was influenced by the Devotio Moderna religious movement, emphasising contemplation, meditation and a focus on the inner life. The Třeboň Altarpiece is regarded for its intense use of colour and light, and its loose brushwork and elegant, rhythmical forms.At some point the work was broken up, with two surviving panels in the National Gallery, Prague, and a third in the Alsová Jihoceská Galeria, Hluboká nad Vltavou, Czech Republic. The extant panels are The Agony in the Garden, Entombment and the Resurrection. The reverse of the Agony shows languid, touching, "rosy-cheeked" representations of Saints Catherine, Mary Magdalene and Margaret.
It is not known how many panels made up the original altarpiece, or how they were arranged. A total five is considered the most likely number, which would allow for four wings and a larger center piece.
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