Portrait of a Carthusian  

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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.

Portrait of a Carthusian is a painting in oils on oak panel by the Early Netherlandish painter Petrus Christus in 1446. The work is part of the Jules Bache Collection housed at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City. It is regarded as a masterpiece of Early Netherlandish painting and a prominent, early example of Trompe l’oeil.

The fly and "trompe l’oeil"

Portrait of a Carthusian sports a Trompe l'oeil fly[1] on its lower right-hand corner. The addition of Trompe l’oeil flies to works of art is believed to have begun in the 15th century, right as Christus became active. Art Historians are generally split between two different interpretations of their use. Many art historians believe the fly to hold religious symbolism, functions as connotations of sin, corruption, mortality, etc. Art historian believes that a fly was used to evoke such images in connection with Satan’s moniker Beezelbub - The Lord of the Flies. More recently, art historians are beginning to view the inclusion of Trompe l’oeil flies as a professional calling card, with art historian Felix Thürlemann describing it as “a selfconscious representation of superior painterly prowess (the fly’s position right next to ‘Petrus Xdi Me Fecit’ hinting that the fly might be the referent of ‘me’ and therefore the creator of the work.)



Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Portrait of a Carthusian" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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