Crazy about Dymphna

When: 21.05.2021 – 31.10.2021
Where: Niguliste Museum
Tallinn, Estonia
The altar with the life of Saint Dymphna was created around 1505 by Gossen van der Weyden, who was the grandson of the great Rogier van der Weyden. It is a fine example of early Dutch painting and has long been part of the permanent exhibition of the Royal Museum of Fine Arts in Antwerp.
On seven panels, we see the image of the tragic life and sufferings of the holy martyr Dymphna. Initially, the work was commissioned for the church of the Tongerlo monastery near Geel (Belgium).
Dymphna lived in the 7th century AD. and was an Irish princess, the daughter of a pagan king and his Christian wife. After the death of his wife, the king fell into madness and desired his daughter. Dymphna refused to associate with her father and fled Ireland, taking refuge in the city of Geel in Belgium.
Dymphna's father, King Damon, soon found out where his daughter was and went to Belgium to bring her home. Dymphna did not want to go back and resisted, for which her father beheaded her.
Since the Middle Ages, Saint Dymphna has been worshiped in this region as the patroness of the mentally ill.
The seven panels of the altar, on which we see the story of Saint Dymphna, have been under restoration by the Phoebus Foundation for several years. As a result of these multiple studies, data were obtained that allow us to take a fresh look at the work itself and at the process of its creation of the diptych.

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