When Botticelli went to Leuven

The Altarpiece of the Holy Sacrament (1464-68) by Dieric Bouts, St Peter’s church, Leuven

In my previous post I revealed how the portraits of Sandro Botticelli and Hugo van der Goes featured in corresponding versions of the Adoration of the Magi, suggesting that Van der Goes may have visited Florence in connection with his painting of the Adoration of the Shepherds, commissioned for the church of the hospital of Santa Maria Nuova.

Further research has produced evidence to suggest that Botticelli likely travelled to Flanders and, in particular, to the Flemish region of Brabant and the city of Leuven, now part of Belgium.

While in Louven, for whatever reason, it appears that Botticelli visited St Peter’s church and laid eyes on the famous altarpiece (still displayed there) painted by Dieric Bouts – the Altarpiece of the Holy Sacrament. The triptych was commissioned in 1464 and completed four years later in 1468.

As Bouts died in May 1475, it is likely that Botticelli’s visit would have occurred sometime during a seven year span between 1468 and the early part of 1475.

Botticelli’s Uffizi version of the Adoration of the Magi incorporates in detail some of the iconography and ideas embedded in the Bouts triptych, particularly in the centre panel depicting the Last Supper. I can only assume that this detailed knowledge was given to Botticelli by Dieric Bouts himself, which may further explain why Hugo van der Goes, a close associate of Bouts, placed portraits of the two artists side by side in his Adoration triptych known as the Montforte Altarpiece.

A look of admiration and appreciation from Sandro Botticelli for Dieric Bouts in the Monforte Altarpiece painted by Hugo van der Goes.
Botticelli’s Uffizi version of the Adoration of the Magi, inspired by not only by the works of Leonardo da Vinci but also the Altarpiece of the Holy Sacrament painted by Dieric Bouts, still displayed in St Peter’s church in Leuven.

1 thought on “When Botticelli went to Leuven

  1. This is fascinating. thank you. When you say “Further research has produced evidence…” you make me wonder about that research. Would you, please, cite your sources?

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