The Master of 1518, Netherlandish, fl. c. 1518
Title: The Descent of the Holy Ghost
Date: c.1518
Medium: Oil on panel
Dimensions:
63 x 69 cm
Credit Line: Purchased, 1948
Object Number: NGI.1162
DescriptionThe apocryphal Acts of the Apostles (2:1-13) mentions that the disciples of Christ had come together on the day of Pentecost, when suddenly they heard a sound like the blowing of a strong wind coming from heaven. At that moment they were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in tongues. The painting was probably part of a lost altarpiece with scenes from the life of the Virgin. Subjects such as this often featured in Netherlandish altarpieces with Marian iconography. The other side of the panel depicts a sculpture of a prophet in a niche. This side would have been visible throughout the year when the wings of the altarpiece were closed. On religious feast days the wings of the altarpiece were opened, thus showing The Descent of the Holy Ghost.

Scholars agree that this painting belongs to the oeuvre of the so-called Master of 1518, an anonymous artist from Antwerp, whose work revolves around a spectacular altarpiece in St Mary’s Church in Lübeck, dated 1518. Recognisable elements of the artist’s style include angular movements, rich colours and emotionless faces with pronounced jaws, long noses and eyes half-open.
Label TextAccording to the apocryphal Acts of the Apostles, the Disciples of Christ had come together on the day of Pentecost, when they heard a sound like the blowing of a strong wind coming from heaven. At that moment they were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in tongues. This painting was probably part of a lost altarpiece. The other side of the panel depicts a sculpture of a prophet in a niche. Altarpieces were usually open on religious feast days, but closed during the remainder of the year, thus showing the reverse of both wings.