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Q. Who was the Master of the Embroidered Foliage?

A.  In 1926 Max Friedländer hypothesized that a single artist--whom he called the Master of the Embroidered Foliage--painted the related pictures of the Virgin and Child. Before Friedländer made this attribution, other art historians had suggested a wide array of artists for the Williamstown panel, from Jan van Eyck to Hans Memling to Gerard David. Later, Friedländer himself suggested that the painting was by Jan Provoost, an artist working in Bruges in the early sixteenth century.

Our analysis, based on laboratory study and consideration of fifteenth-century workshop practices, demonstrates that these panels were all produced between 1482 and the early 1500s not by one but by several artists, perhaps sharing a common template for the main figures. Unless further conclusive evidence comes to light, however, we will continue to attribute the Clark painting to the Master of the Embroidered Foliage, while acknowledging that this is a catch-all name referring to a number of painters active in Brussels and Bruges in the late fifteenth century.

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