october 9, 2004–JANUARY 2, 2005


In 1926 the German art historian Max Friedländer attributed a group of late-fifteenth-century Netherlandish paintings of the Virgin Mary and Christ Child in identical poses to an unknown artist whom he called the "Master of the Embroidered Foliage." Friedländer likened the way that the foliage was painted in these works to the repeated pattern of stitches in embroidery, thus the unusual name for the artist. In 1968 one of these paintings was given to the Clark Art Institute by the executors of the estate of Herbert Lehman, governor of New York State from 1933 to 1942, and the Edith and Herbert Lehman Foundation. This exhibition brings together three related paintings attributed to the Master of the Embroidered Foliage from museums in Bruges, Lille, and Minneapolis. Using modern scientific techniques and traditional art historical methods of investigation we test Friedländer's hypothesis that these works are by the same artist, while also exploring the relationships between the paintings. We attempt to answer several questions:

What are the origins of the paintings?

How do the paintings relate to each other?

What did the paintings mean in the fifteenth century?

Who was the Master of the Embroidered Foliage?

This exhibition has been organized by the Musée des Beaux-Arts, Lille, and the Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute in association with the Minneapolis Institute of Arts, under the auspices of FRAME (French Regional and American Museum Exchange).