Stein Quadriptych: Manuscript or Altarpiece?

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Stein Quadriptych: Bruges, late 1520s (W. 442 – Walters Art Museum, Baltimore). The Stein Quadriptych features . The individual miniatures, at 6.8 by 5.2 cm (211/16 x 21/16 in.), are organized in four panels of sixteen miniatures and have been so arranged since they were first uncovered in the late nineteenth century. Inevitably, given the […]

Stein Quadriptych: Bruges, late 1520s (W. 442 – Walters Art Museum, Baltimore).

The Stein Quadriptych features sixty-four miniatures that tell the story of the lives of the Virgin and Christ.

The individual miniatures, at 6.8 by 5.2 cm (211/16 x 21/16 in.), are organized in four panels of sixteen miniatures and have been so arranged since they were first uncovered in the late nineteenth century.

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Stein Quadriptych, facsimile edition

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Inevitably, given the unusual format of the piece, especially for a manuscript illuminator as Simon Bening, scholars have wondered whether this series was originally conceived as an altarpiece or for a book, and the debate is still open. Certainly, Bening devised one of his most original artistic conceptions. Not only did he exploit the close-up for dramatic effect, but he also heightened the immediacy of the story by knitting together successive narrative moments, sparking the sensation of minute-by-minute storytelling.