The J. Paul Getty Museum in Los Angeles has purchased Quentin Metsys’s Christ as the Man of Sorrows (1520–30) in a private sale. Held in a private collection for centuries and unknown to historians before, it is the first work by Metsys to enter the Getty’s collection. Christ as the Man of Sorrows will be exhibited publicly for the first time in spring 2019.
Timothy Potts, director of the Getty, said in a statement, “This discovery adds a major masterwork both to the artist’s oeuvre and to the Getty Museum’s paintings collection. It ranks among our most important 16th-century Northern European paintings and is already attracting much attention from scholars of this period.”
Metsys was a prominent artist in Antwerp in the early 16th century, and his work earned him a reputation as the “father” of the city’s painting tradition, known for his portraits and skillful representation of emotion.
In the late 19th century, Christ as a Man of Sorrows was erroneously attributed to 15th-century Netherlandish painter Rogier van der Weyden. Art historians credited Metsys with the painting in 2016.
Davide Gasparotto, senior curator of paintings at the Getty Museum, said in a release, “In Christ as the Man of Sorrows, Metsys combined late medieval specificity—still meaningful in the early 16th century—with a new emphasis on Christ’s humanity. In contrast to earlier devotional images, Christ as the Man of Sorrows was intended to elicit compassion from viewers. This exceptionally moving painting is a striking testament to the artist’s skill and innovation.”