Jean Fouquet’s ‘Madonna’ extended in Berlin due to popular demand


The special presentation ‘Jean Fouquet: The Melun Diptych’ is on view at the Gemäldegalerie in Berlin only until this Sunday, 7 January 2018, having been seen already by around 65,000 excited viewers. Given this great interest, the Gemäldegalerie of the Staatliche Museen zu Berlin and the lending museum, the Royal Museum of Fine Arts in Antwerp, have agreed on an extended stay in Berlin for the diptych’s right wing, depicting the Madonna surrounded by angels.

This continues the first showing in one place in over 80 years of a core work of French painting and of the art of the fifteenth century in general. The special display with additional international loans will end on the original date, and the Melun Diptych will then occupy its temporary new home in Hall V of the Gemäldegalerie starting on 10 January 2018. There both wings will be on display until early October 2018.

In a statement Michael Eissenhauer, director-general of the Staatliche Museen zu Berlin and director of the Gemäldegalerie and Skulpturensammlung, announced: ‘The Staatliche Museen zu Berlin is overwhelmed by the generosity of our colleagues in Antwerp in continuing to entrust us with their painting for several months after the occasion of the special exhibition. This is more than collegial appreciation. It makes possible the prolongation of the art-historical and aesthetic sensation of showing the two panels, held by separate institutions, together in Berlin.’

Jean Fouquet’s diptych from the Collegiate Church in Melun is comprised of two wings. The left wing, portraying the patron Étienne Chevalier with Saint Stephen, has been held by the Gemäldegalerie since 1896. The right wing, depicting the Madonna, has belonged to the Royal Museum of Fine Arts in Antwerp since the early nineteenth century.

Étienne Chevalier (c. 1400–1474), lawyer and treasurer of King Charles VII of France, came from Melun, a city southeast of Paris. There he had a burial chapel built for himself and his wife Catherine Budé, who had already died young in 1452, in the Collegiate Church of Notre-Dame. In the following years Chevalier commissioned a large and immensely costly diptych by Jean Fouquet, presumably intended for the altar of his chapel. It remained in the church until around the year 1773, when it was dismantled and the panels scattered to various locations.