This picture is a detail from an oblong panel that was originally the predella of an altarpiece, since lost, that used to belong to the Ghent Cathedral of St Bavon. It dates from the end of the 15th century. This war scene, with many gory details, is situated at two levels: the historical subject and its contemporary counterpart. In the year 70 AD, the Roman general Titus captured the Jewish "capital" of Jerusalem during the reign of Emperor Vespasian, to quell the Jewish uprising. In that same year, the Temple was razed to the ground. That is the subject of this panel. But for contemporary spectators, it also told a modern story.
Heraldic details such as the imperial double eagle and the buildings place the scene of the battle unambiguously in the painter's own age: at the end of the 15th century, Ghent was besieged by Emperor Frederick III and his son Maximilian. The successive military operations have been juxtaposed in chronological order, to tell a realistic story. Stylistically, the panel suffers from a somewhat awkward stiffness.Other works produced by Ghent workshops are the Triptych with Scenes from the Life of Christ by the Master of the Wenemaer Triptych, and the Triptych of the Family of St Anne.
SizeH: 30 cm
MediumOil on panel
YearLate 15th century